Pretoria - The Bulls are hard at work in preparation for the 2016 Super Rugby season, with some new faces among the regular squad members.
Prop Lizo Gqoboka, who joined from the Kings, has settled in well amongst his team-mates and is working hard with the rest of the Super Rugby squad assembled in Pretoria.
Another Kings recruit, wing Luther Obi, will join the squad on Wednesday as the Bulls step up preparations at Loftus Versfeld for next year’s extended Super competition.
A number of injured players will join the fray as they complete rehabilitation, while those playing club rugby in Japan will return during the course of January 2016.
The five returning from Japan are Grant Hattingh, Handre Pollard, JJ Engelbrecht, Bjorn Basson and Jesse Kriel.
The injured players are: Deon Stegmann, Jannes Kirsten, Nick de Jager and Travis Ismaiel (all to return in December), Irne Herbst, Morne Mellett, Jaco Visagie, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Hanro Liebenberg, Piet van Zyl, Dries Swanepoel and Warrick Gelant (January) and Callie Visagie (February).
The squad, under new coach Nollis Marais, will have a youthful, but familiar look, as most of the players came through the junior ranks in Pretoria.
Bulls High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, on Monday said there is great excitement to have Gqoboka and Obi in the squad.
"They are highly rated all around and we have been trying to get them to Pretoria for a while now. We are pretty pleased with the fact that they have joined the Bulls family and are keen to see their contributions to the squad."
According to Janse van Rensburg, talks with three other Kings players, Sylvian Mahuza, Thembelani Bholi and Tim Agaba, are on-going and they could still join the team in the near future.
Negotiations with Francois Hougaard is also going well and if successful, could still see the scrumhalf in blue when he is not playing sevens for the Blitzboks.
Francois Brummer is also on loan from the Pumas and the former stalwart could add to his lone Bulls cap gained in 2010.
"Our squad have a youthful look, but the nice thing about that is the fact that we are relying on our junior structures to deliver the goods. We have a new management group, a new generation of players and a new way we want to approach things. That said, we still need to stick to some of those things that made the Bulls great in the past.
“This is a long-term team we are building. We understand that we need to have strong first phase possession to play the way we want to and that our skills will have to improve. Everybody is working very hard to achieve that,” Janse van Rensburg concluded.
Props: Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Lizo Gqoboka, Dean Greyling, Nqoba Mxoli, Morne Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Entienne Swanepoel
Hookers: Adriaan Strauss, Bandise Maku, Corniel Els, Jaco Visagie, Callie Visagie
Locks: RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Marvin Orie, Nicholaas Janse van Rensburg, Le Roux Roets, Irne Herbst, Grant Hattingh
Loose forwards: Lappies Labuschagne, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Deon Stegmann, Freddy Ngoza, Nick de Jager, Arno Botha, Clyde Davids, Hanro Liebenberg
Scrumhalves: Rudy Paige, Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl
Flyhalves: Tian Schoeman, Francois Brummer, Joshua Stander, Handre Pollard
Midfielders: Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein, Daniel Kriel, JT Jackson, Dries Swanepoel, JJ Engelbrecht, Jesse Kriel
Wings: Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stigling, Kafense Mahlo, Travis Ismaiel, Luther Obi, Bjorn Basson
Fullbacks: Duncan Matthews, Divan Rossouw, Warrick Gelant