Pretoria – The Blue Bulls will not use their lack of knockout rugby experience as an excuse when they face Western Province in their Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday.
Compared the Province side with nine players that featured in last year’s final the Bulls only have four players in their matchday-22 that played in last year’s semi-final against the Capetonians.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais said he could no longer say he had a young team as they have all survived their first Currie Cup season.
“We worked hard to get into the semi-final and all the players have a Currie Cup season behind them,” Marais said in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“They will have to play and believe in themselves, we can no longer hide behind the fact that we have a bunch of youngsters.”
Marais said although he has already succeeded in changing the way the Bulls played and blooding new players for the future, they still a few final hurdles to navigate.
“This is very good for the side at the beginning of the season we were unsure about the way forward, we wanted to implement in terms of our way of playing,” he said.
“We had our ups and downs at certain stages but getting a home semi-final we’ve achieved a lot but we want to take it a bit further.
“It is always nice to get into a semi-final but getting our first home semi-final since 2008 means a lot to the team, for the union and our supporters.”
Meanwhile, lock Jacques du Plessis will return to the starting XV after he was a late withdrawal to the team that edged the Pumas 25-24 in Nelspruit last weekend.
RG Snyman, who replaced Du Plessis for the Pumas match, moves back to the bench for his regular role as impact player.
Jason Jenkins, who was the replacement lock against the Pumas retains his spot on the bench but will be the fourth loose forward cover.
In their first encounter this season the Bulls dismantled Province 47-29 at Loftus Versfeld before the Capetonians turned the tables on the return fixture winning 29-14.
* Tickets are still available for the semi-final from R40 at bulls.ticketpro.co.za or at The Loftus Ticket Office.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 William Small-Smith
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12. Juan de Jongh (captain), 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6. Rynhardt Elstadt, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Chris van Zyl, 19. Jurie van Vuuren, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Huw Jones