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
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
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
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.
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
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