Pretoria - The Blue Bulls have confirmed that Werner Kruger, Akona Ndungane and Duncan Matthews have extended their contracts and will be available to play for the Bulls in the 2015 Super Rugby competition.
Former Springbok wing Ndungane extended his contract until the end of the 2015 Super Rugby competition, while prop Kruger, who made his Springbok debut in 2011, signed on until October 2016.
Outside back Matthews, who represented the South African Under-20 side in 2014, will stay with the Pretoria franchise until at least October 2016.
BBC's High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, confirmed that the majority of the provisional Bulls squad for next year have signed up until the end of 2016.
"We had a long-term plan with some of these younger players which started in 2012 already and it is great to see that they are now blossoming in our structures. Added to some new signings for next season, I think the 2015 Super Rugby season could be an exciting one for our supporters," said Janse van Rensburg.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke announced his provisional training squad for the 2015 Super Rugby competition at the same time.
The squad boasts six Springboks currently on tour with the national team in England and another 12 players who has represented the Boks in the past.
It is also packed with a number of Junior Springboks and Springbok Sevens players.
The new faces to the squad include Matthews, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant, Jamba Ulengo, Dries Swanepoel, Dan Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Nardus van der Walt, Irne Herbst, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Arno van Wyk and Pierre Schoeman.
New signings Lappies Labuschagne, Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss (all signed from the Cheetahs) are also in the group.
"I am very excited about this group. We have great depth in many crucial positions, so should be covered when injury strike. The influx of youth excites me as these players have wonderful skills, particularly on attack. This will allow us a different approach in that department. A number of these youngsters has been exposed to senior rugby already and should hit the ground running in the Super Rugby competition. It was always part of the long-term strategy for these youngsters to develop into Super Rugby players and I think we have managed that well," said Ludeke.“We have been working hard on a game plan and structure that will compliment the playing staff we have.”
The Bulls will play one warm-up match next year, with the opponents for the match on January 24, to be confirmed. The match is scheduled to be played in Polokwane.
The Blue Bulls XV will also play an invitational match against Saracens in London on January 31.
The Bulls training squad is:
Backs: Jesse Kriel, Duncan Matthews, Warrick Gelant, Jurgen Visser (Kriel, Gelant is with SA Sevens and Visser is injured and expected back on the field January 5, 2015), Akona Ndungane*, Travis Ismaiel, Bjorn Basson*, Jamba Ulengo, JJ Engelbrecht*, William Small-Smith, Dries Swanepoel (Engelbrecht with SA Sevens, Swanepoel injured and expected back on the field February 30, 2015), Jan Serfontein*, Ulrich Beyers, Dan Kriel, Burger Odendaal (Serfontein with Springboks, Odendaal injured and expected back on the field January 12, 2015), Handre Pollard*, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Tian Schoeman, Kobus Marais (Pollard with Springboks), Francois Hougaard*, Piet van Zyl*, Rudy Paige, Ivan van Zyl, Carlo Engelbrecht (Hougaard with Springboks)
Forwards: Pierre Spies* (Spies injured and expected back on the field January 5, 2015), Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha* (Botha injured and expected back on the field January 5, 2015), Jacques du Plessis, Nardus van der Walt, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Engelbrecht, Deon Stegmann*, Lappies Labuschagne, Roelof Smit, Victor Matfield*, Grant Hattingh (Hattingh injured and expected back on the field January 5, 2015), Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Flip van der Merwe* (Van der Merwe injured and expected back on the field January 5, 2015), Irne Herbst, Jason Jenkins, Werner Kruger*, Marcel van der Merwe*, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Hencus van Wyk, Basil Short. (Van der Merwe injured and expected back on the field December 1, 2014, Van Wyk injured and expected back on the field February 30, 2015), Adriaan Strauss*, Bandise Maku*, Callie Visagie, Jaco Visagie, Arno van Wyk. (Callie and Jaco Visagie injured and expected back on the field January 5, 2015), Dean Greyling*, Morne Mellett, Trevor Nyakane*, Pierre Schoeman