Pretoria – The new approach coach Nollis Marais installed at the Blue Bulls since taking charge of the side is yet to filter down to every player in the team.
The Bulls have surprised with an expansive style since the start of this year’s Currie Cup competition moving away from some of the fundamentals associated with the Pretoria side.
While an inside centre’s key attribute in the past would have been an ability to take up the crash ball, Marais is looking to bring some variation to the number-12 role.
Springbok centre Jan Serfontein have been a victim of years of crash-ball conditioning at the Bulls, and have been shifted to the bench to make way for Burger Odendaal for this weekend’s clash against Western Province in Cape Town on Friday.
Odendaal had more time to adapt to the new playing philosophy while Serfontein was in the Springbok World Cup training squad.
Marais said Serfontein would be afforded time to adjust to the changes, and he was confident he would soon be at his best.
“We decided to mix it up between when the 12 takes the ball up and when he moves the ball around on the pitch,” Marais said in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“Burger Odendaal was good when he came on, not that Jan played bad, the first 40 minutes we weren’t really in the game, and he was under pressure the whole time.
“Burger understands the way we think, and Jan still needs to find his feet with us, how we want to play, we are trying to move away from contact in the 12 area.”
Serfontein’s shift to the bench was among a few changes made to the team that went down to the Lions in Pretoria over the weekend.
Louis Fouche will received a starting berth in the place of Tian Schoeman with his cannon-like kicking boot counting in his favour.
“Playing at sea level, Louis has a big boot on him and that could help to get us out of our area and not play in our 22,” Marais said.
“Facing strong winds he can exit for us and he’s been waiting a while for his opportunity, so we decided to give him a chance to show where he is at the moment.”
In an attempt to give his dangerous outside backs quick ball from the get-go, Marais has opted for a loose trio consisting of three ‘fetchers’.
Captain Lappies Labuschagne will shift to eighthman with Arno Botha dropping down to the bench while Deon Stegmann is promoted to the starting XV.
The Bulls have made a habit of producing a late kick in their matches this season, and Marais hoped the loose trio composition would help to remedy the problem.
“I think it will be good for us and the way we want to play, it might help us to get a better start with three good fetchers on the park,” he said.
“We need to start better and the breakdown area will be highly contested and those three guys may give us the edge there.”
In the other change, Pierre Schoeman was named at loosehead prop, with Dean Greyling dropping out of the match day squad.
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12. Huw Jones, 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Nic Groom (captain), 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Chris van Zyl, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Demetri Catrakilis, 22. Kobus van Wyk
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 7 Roelof Smit, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Jan Serfontein