Pretoria - The youngsters included in the Blue Bulls team, are hungry for Currie Cup rugby, said their coach Pine Pienaar on Wednesday.
Pienaar decided to give 20-year-old Louis Fouche a start at flyhalf ahead of Marnitz Boshoff while Baby Boks skipper Arno Botha, another 20-year-old, and former Tuks flanker Warwick Tecklenburg were also named in the starting XV that take on the Griquas on Friday.
Botha and Tecklenburg were included as regular starters Deon Stegmann and Dewald Potgieter are both injured.
“What we see here is young guys who will get an opportunity and I believe they will be hungry enough to put their hands up come Friday,” said Pienaar.
“Many young players at the other unions are being exposed to Currie Cup rugby and they are doing well.”
Pienaar insisted it was not a case of cheapening the Bulls jersey and that the youngsters deserved to be in this position.
“There is definitely nothing wrong with their commitment and attitude in the team and I think it is only a question of time to get the cohesion to the levels where it should be."
Fouche enjoyed a short stint during last week’s match against the Pumas - slotting a very important dropgoal.
“Louis is a flyhalf who did well in our under-21 system. He can really kick the ball far and if we look at the three flyhalves we have (Francois Brummer and Boshoff), Marnitz did well and this is a case of giving Louis an opportunity," said Pienaar.
“He is a physical player and he attacks closer to the advantage line so even though he is being thrown in at the deep-end, we are excited to see what he can do.”
With Potgieter out of action, hooker Gary Botha was named as captain while Springbok Chiliboy Ralepelle, who was released from the Springbok camp on Wednesday, is on the bench.
Botha shared his coach’s sentiments regarding the injection of youth to the side.
He said that part of his role would be to keep them stay calm on the big stage.
“When I think back to the time when I made my Currie Cup debut, there were also some older hands and it was good to see how they reacted,” said Botha.
“Guys like Tiaan Joubert, Anton Leonard, Johan Wasserman were there and people also looked at us as an inexperienced team, but the only place to gain experience is in the actual matches.”
Botha said he was looking forward to the added responsibility.
“It is a great opportunity for the younger players as they are the future of the country’s rugby and it is in pressure situations like this where character is formed.”
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Juandr Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subtsitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Francois Venter.