Currie Cup

Blue Bulls to turn to youth

2014-08-21 17:30
William Small-Smith (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - The Blue Bulls will be banking on home advantage and a brand new backline to kick into gear their Currie Cup campaign following two devastating defeats in the opening weeks of the competition.

Under pressure, coach Frans Ludeke believed it was the right time to bring in some youthful exuberance after making seven changes to his run-on side for the Bulls' first home match against the EP Kings on Saturday.

"There are a few changes and I think it is a good time to make the changes. The guys give us other options and energy as they have waited a long time for an opportunity," Ludeke said at the team announcement on Wednesday.

"We've had a good week and we feel the changes will help us to turn our campaign around."

The Light Blues were under severe pressure to claim their first victory after conceding 81 points in their first two matches, including a 41-17 defeat to arch rivals Western Province in Cape Town over the weekend.

Four changes were made to the backline, which sees some of the most exciting young talent in the country combining in what promises to be a potent attack.

Fullback Jesse Kriel and centre William Small-Smith earn a starting berth ahead of Jurgen Visser and JJ Engelbrecht respectively.

Flyhalf Tony Jantjies comes in for the injured Jacques-Louis Potgieter and partners with scrumhalf Rudy Paige, who replaces Piet van Zyl.

Ludeke believed the players he selected for the Kings clash would fulfill different roles to those of the players they replaced.

"From broken field, Jesse can get the ball into space where he will bring something different," he said.

"William is a smart actor -- he is a good decision-maker the way he gets the outside backs going that is going to be vital this weekend.

"When we get that front-foot ball, we need to make sure we finish off those opportunities."

Hooker Bongi Mbonambi, who was one of the standout players in the Bulls' defeat in Cape Town, earns a start in place of Callie Visagie who drops out of the match-day 22.

"It is a great opportunity for Bongi. Every time he comes onto the playing field, he has had a huge impact and we are giving him a starting opportunity and we expect him to have a good game."

In the front row, Marcel van der Merwe moves from loosehead to tighthead with Dean Greyling returning after a week's suspension.

While the pressure was piling up on the team, Bulls captain Deon Stegmann said the players could not afford to be swept up by the negativity.

"It is important for us to focus on the positive stuff that we did over the weekend, and in terms of the negatives, we'll try and identify the problems and fix them," Stegmann said.

"It is important for us to get our campaign onto winning ways, so we know this weekend will be an important game.

"It is not a time to focus on the negative things, we must keep our heads up and fight, fight, fight."


Blue Bulls

15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques Du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (captain), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van Der Merwe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi
1 Dean Greyling

Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wiaan Liebenburg, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Ulrich Beyers

EP Kings

15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Shane Gates, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Gary van Aswegen, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Paul Schoeman,6  Stefan Willemse, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Darron Nell, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Steven Cummins, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Jaco Grobler, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Siyanda Grey


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