Five debut for Elephants
Port Elizabeth – It’s virtually an all-new Eastern Province rugby team that will take on the Blue Bulls in a friendly match at the EPRFU Stadium on Saturday.
New coach Alan Solomons picked only a handful of the players that represented the Elephants in the Vodacom Cup.
“I’m still busy weighing up the talent and want to use this match to see whether we are on the right track,” said Solomons.
Five players in the starting team - Tiger Mangweni, Wayne Stevens, Donald Stevens, Lungelo Payi and Darron Nell – will play for EP for the first time.
Solomons also has two on-trial loose forwards– JJ Gagiano and Morné Hanekom – on his substitutes bench.
Samoan wing Paul Perez will also join EP on Thursday.
Solomons also announced his Currie Cup squad on Tuesday and said he might still add more names to it.
One of the surprises was the omission of Justin Peach, who was one of the Elephants’ best players in the Vodacom Cup.
The Elephants team is: Tiger Mangweni, Milo Nqoro, Wayne Stevens, De Wet Barry (capt), Norman Nelson, Matthew Tyler-Smith, Donald Stevens, Darron Nell, Zolani Mofu, Jacques Potgieter, Lungelo Payi, Rory Duncan, Riaan Vermeulen, Sangoni Mxoli, Pumlani Nodikita.
Substitutes: Bobby Dyer, Raoul Larson, Sphephelo Mayaba, Brendon Snyman, JJ Gagiano, Morné Hanekom, Marlon Lewis, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Mzwandile Stick, Paul Perez.
The Currie Cup squad is:
Forwards: Nolan Clark, Rory Duncan, Bobby Dyer, Pietie Ferreira, Raoul Larson, Sphephelo Mayaba, Mpho Mbiyozo, Thabiso Mngomezulu, Zolani Mofu, Sangoni Mxoli, Darron Nell, Pumlani Nodikita, Lungelo Payi, Jacques Potgieter, Eugene Smith, Brendon Snyman, Riaan Vermeulen.
Backs: De Wet Barry, Jaco Bekker, Braam Gerber, Marlon Lewis, Tiger Mangweni, Norman Nelson, Howard Noble, Milo Nqoro, Paul Perez, Donald Stevens, Wayne Stevens, Mzwandile Stick, Matthew Tyler-Smith, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Coenie van Wyk.
Meanwhile, EP Rugby Union chief executive Anele Pamba confirmed on Tuesday that it’s the last game that EP will play in the EPRU Stadium.
The Elephants will play in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after the World Cup.