Cape Town - Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has named an experienced squad for their Currie Cup campaign with Ruan Steenkamp appointed as captain.
The 49-man squad includes Springbok scrumhalves Piet van Zyl and Rudy Paige as well as wing Jamba Ulengo.
Steenkamp takes over the captaincy although he has been ruled out of the opening weekend of the competition due to a hamstring injury.
The squad sees the return of prop Dayan van der Westhuizen and lock Irne Herbst, who have just completed their loan stint with the Southern Kings, as well as the inclusion of Blitzbok forward Tim Agaba.
Jan Serfontein, Jesse Kriel, Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane and Handré Pollard have tripartite agreements with the Springboks in place and will not be available for the Currie Cup.
The Bulls open their campaign against the Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday. They then have a bye before taking on the Golden Lions in their first home game of the tournament.
Marais expressed excitement about the tournament, hoping to go one better than last year, when the Blue Bulls lost in the final against the Free State Cheetahs.
“It is an exciting time for all of us. Our new Executive of Rugby, John Mitchell, has joined us now and his input will be massive," he said.
"We will be trying to build our unique style and although we will need time to find our feet in doing so, the focus will be progressing every week and build on that as the season progresses.”
Blue Bulls squad:
Forwards: Tim Agaba, Clyde Davids, Nic de Jager, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Abongile Nonkontwana, Freddy Ngoza, Roelof Smit, Boom Prinsloo, Ruan Steenkamp, Shaun Adendorff, Irne Herbst, Ruben van Heerden, Eli Snyman, Conraad van Vuuren, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Jacobie Adriaanse, Neetling Fouche, Matthys Basson, John-Roy Jenkinson, Martin Dreyer, Lizo Gqoboka, Njabulo Gumede, Pierre Schoeman, Edgar Marutlulle, Jaco Visagie, Jan-Henning Campher, Johan Grobbelaar
Backs: Ulrich Beyers, Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Travis Ismaiel, Kafentse Mahlo, Rabs Maxwane, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Adrian Maebane, Johnny Kotze, Dries Swanepoel, Franco Naude, Joshua Stander, Tinus de Beer, Tony Jantjies, Andre Warner, Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl, Rudy Paige, Theo Maree