Currie Cup

Nollis Marais: Old habits die hard

2015-08-06 22:00
Nollis Marais (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Two months since taking the reins of the Blue Bulls, Nollis Marais is learning old habits die hard as he looks to bring about reform to the Pretoria side.

“To get rid of old habits takes longer than five weeks, it is a continuous process and it is something that we will look to improve on it every week,” Marais said at his first team announcement in Pretoria on Thursday.

“There is excitement among the players, we want to try new things, so there is a lot of energy in the team.”

The Bulls have been severely criticised for committing to an outdated game plan that was overly structured.

Since his appointment Marais has said he would be employing a more ball-in-hand approach.

Marais announced a youthful match-day 22 with a handful of players making their Currie Cup debut in Bloemfontein.

In the backline Warrick Gelant and Travis Ismaiel will get their first run in the competition while forwards Hanro Liebenberg, Marvin Orie and Jaco Visagie will also be making their first starts in the competition.

The Blue Bulls sported an exciting young backline with players that have demonstrated an ability to cut the opposition defences to pieces.

“There are a lot of players here that have been looking for opportunities. Warrick Gelant is a really good rugby player getting his chance on the bigger stage and a lot is expected of William-Small Smith too,” Marais said.

“His combination with Burger Odendaal and Tian Schoeman will be interesting on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, standout flank Lappies Labuschagne was named as captain for the season with Marais strongly endorsing the former Cheetahs player.

“The decision is made, my captain for the season will be Lappies, he is a guy that doesn’t talk too much, he leads from the front,” Marais said.

“The players follow him because he never backs down, he always works hard in training and he is the kind of captain I want.”

The Bulls will be travelling to Bloemfontein following their 42-29 defeat to the Cheetahs in their last Super Rugby match of the season.

Marais believed the Cheetahs would have a more settled look about them since that match while he expected an expansive style from the Free State side.

“Free State are a really good team and I think they will play exciting rugby and I’ve seen in the Varsity Cup how he (coach Franco Smith) coached Shimlas,” Marais said.

“I think we will be a bit of an unknown factor and we will try a few things that might not come off immediately.”

While the Blue Bulls will be looking to blood new talent they will also have the added pressure of turning their fortunes around.

It has been six years since the Bulls last had their hands on the Currie Cup trophy or featured in a final.

“We would like to play a brand of rugby that our supporters and the players long before us will be proud to call themselves Bulls again,” Labuschagne said.


Free State Cheetahs

15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen

Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 BG Uys, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Fred Zeilinga

Blue Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling

Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dries Swanepoel

Read more on:    blue bulls  |  currie cup  |  nollis marais  |  pretoria  |  rugby


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