Currie Cup

Marais endorses Bulls youth brigade

2015-09-03 07:44
Nollis Marais (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has given his youth brigade a strong endorsement by accepting them warts and all.

His support for his young crop of players comes as no surprise as they have awarded Marais handsomely with four victories from as many matches.

While victories ultimately translate into bums on seats on their home ground, the exciting brand of rugby they have been producing are winning over their usual detractors.

“They will be getting and better and I will keep on backing them to get that experience from them... if we are saying we are developing young talent then these are the guys we need to back,” Marais said at the team announcement for Friday’s clash against the Cheetahs.

The Bulls have been on a roll since the first-round pounding of the self-same Free State side, collecting the full complement of points in their first four matches.

The Cheetahs have made steady improvements since the 57-19 defeats at the hands of the Bulls in Bloemfontein in the first match of the competition.

They will be travelling to the capital city off the back of two consecutive victories which includes a 28-21 win over Western Province last weekend.

Marais believes the visitors will pose a different challenge since their first encounter and expects a tough battle.

“I think we caught them off guard in the first match because a lot of people did not know what we were going to do,” he said.

“They are a much-improved side, they played well against Western Province in Newlands in the rain and they could have won that match.

“They were very good against Griquas and against Western Province in that first half they dominated so I think they are an in form side at the moment.

Meanwhile, Marais named the two returning Springboks in his match-day 22, with prop Marcel van der Merwe earning a starting berth, while centre Jan Serfontein could make an appearance off the bench.

In-form scrumhalf Francois Hougaard is back on duty in the run-on side after he missed their match against Griquas over the weekend for attend his sister’s wedding.

Van der Merwe replaces Werner Kruger while Pierre Schoeman receives a starting spot in the place of Dean Greyling.

Flank Roelof Smit recovered from a hip pointer injury and has been named in the loose trio with Jannes Kirsten shifting to the bench.


Blue Bulls:

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 Roelof Smit, 6 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der M erwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pierre Schoeman.

Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Jan Serfontein

Free State Cheetahs:

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 BG Uys

Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21, Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Sias Ebersohn


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