Pretoria - Going up against the defending Currie Cup champions,
the Blue Bulls’ young side will be eager to show they can compete against the
best when they face Western Province in Pretoria on Saturday (19:10 kick-off).
The Bulls have made a promising start to their 2015 Currie
Cup campaign with comprehensive victories in the two opening rounds.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais’ ideas of playing an
expansive game plan have found fertile ground but he believes a victory over WP
would be a major boost for his young charges.
“That would be a huge confidence boost I think we last beat
them in the Currie Cup in 2012 if I have it correct so it will be a huge
challenge,” Marais said at Thursday’s team announcement in Pretoria.
“One thing about this team is the belief they have in
themselves and that would just reinforce it and even if things don’t go our way
they will bounce back from that.”
Marais made three changes to his side to face Western
Province with centre William Small-Smith and flank Deon Stegmann ruled out due
Dries Swanepoel will earn his first start where he will
combine with Burger Odendaal in midfield, while Roelof Smit replaces Stegmann.
Bandise Maku will also receive a starting berth at hooker in
the place of Jaco Visagie and will supply some much-needed experience.
The Pretoria side ended their clash against Griquas with a
flourish after a nervous start in which the central region team led 12-6 at the
However, Marais believes they were much better than the
scoreline may have suggested in the first 60 minutes of the encounter.
“I don’t think we were that bad in the first half where we
had 80 percent of the possession but small mistakes crept in,” Marais said.
“We’ve spent a lot of time working on our handling and we
know we are not at the level we need to be.
“Because the guys are looking to play into space they are
making mistakes with their decision making.”
Meanwhile, Bulls prop Werner Kruger will become the first
player at the union to play 100 matches in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup.
Marais believes his side has already surprised supporters by
the way they have played so far but is under no illusions about the challenge
the visitors will pose.
“A lot of people thought we would play the same rugby as
previously and as everybody can see we are trying to put new things in place,”
“The first aim will always be to win, we are playing an
excellent Western Province side being the defending champions and finalists the
“The only way to prove your worth is on Saturday, I think it
is going to be an awesome clash and we are in it for 80 minutes.”
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12
Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7
Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du
Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Dean Greyling.
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen,
18 RG Snyman, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dan Kriel
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12.
Jaco Taute, 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom
(vice-captain), 8. Nizaam Carr (captain), 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6. Rynhardt
Elstadt, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Oli
Substitutes: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Alistair Vermaak, 18.
Chris van Zyl, 19. Chris Cloete, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Huw