Bulls fields 10 Springboks in Super Rugby Opener against Stormers
Rosko Specman will be the only tournament debutant on Saturday to start with no less than 10 Springboks in the squad against a very Strong and determined Stormers Team. Specman played in the GUINNESS PRO 14 competition for the Cheetahs in 2017, but this will be a first taste of the Vodacom Super Rugby for the World Sevens Series Super Star.
The Best possible halfback pair must be Handre Pollard and Embrose Papier at this stage and therefore the Pretoria Dominee Ivan van Zyl will start off the bench with the Talented Manie Libbok next to him.
The Bulls will further start their 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign with five tournament rookies in this highly anticipated clash that will also see the return to South African rugby for Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits. Vermeulen returns to the competition for the first time since 2015 has represented the Toyota Cheetahs and DHL Stormers in 109 matches, while Brits, who played for the Cats and DHL Stormers in his career, last saw action in the Southern Hemisphere showpiece in 2011.
Apart from Vermeulen and Brits, there will also be a Vodacom Bulls debut for replacement prop Dayan van der Westhuizen. The Vodacom Bulls player represented the Southern Kings in the tournament before as a loan player to the Eastern Cape franchise, playing for them 11 times.
The hardest player in the Bulls organisation, Ruan Steenkamp, who missed the entire 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament due to injury, was named on the flank.
Burger Odendaal and Handré Pollard in line for their 50th caps later this season, while up front, Trevor Nyakane could play in his 100th Super match during the tournament (running out for his 50th Vodacom Bulls cap on Saturday).
Lood de Jager will lead the team for the first time in the tournament and the lock will combine with Jason Jenkins. The duo last started a match together as the lock combination in March 2018 against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Coach Pote Human said during the Press Conference at Loftus on Wednesday that they are not the favourites despite playing at home.
THE BULLS TEAM (caps and points):
15. Warrick Gelant (34, 60)
14. Johnny Kotze (34, 40)
13. Jessie Kriel (61, 75)
12. Burger Odendaal (43, 15)
11. Rosko Specman (on debut)
10. Handré Pollard (46, 437)
9. Embrose Papier (10, 5)
8. Duane Vermeulen (109, 40)
7. Hanro Liebenberg (28, 15)
6. Ruan Steenkamp (11, 0)
5. Lood de Jager (c; 60, 25)
4. Jason Jenkins (40, 35)
3. Trevor Nyakane (91, 15)
2. Schalk Brits (63, 20)
1. Lizo Gqoboka (37, 10)
THE BULLS BENCH
Corniel Els (on debut), Simphiwe Matanzima (0, 0), Dayan van der Westhuizen (10, 0), Eli Snyman (on debut), Thembelani Bholi (30, 5), Ivan van Zyl (17, 0), Manie Libbok (8, 13), Dylan Sage (on debut).
BULLS VS STORMERS STATS
- Played 31, won 12 with one draw. Average score: 22-22.
- Matches at home: Played 15, won 8, lost 7. Average score: 27-22.
- Most appearances: Victor Matfield 140
- Most points: Morné Steyn 1449
- Most tries: Bryan Habana 37
- Most points in season: Morné Steyn 263
- Most tries in season: Bjorn Basson 10
SUPERSPORT CHALLENGE WARMUP MATCH AS CURTAIN RAISER
The Vodacom Blue Bulls also named their squad to play in a warm-up friendly against Naka Bulle in the curtain-raiser to the game. The Vodacom Blue Bulls are preparing for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and the Naka Bulle will play in the Gold Cup, so this match will be perfect as part of their preparations.
A number of players with Vodacom Super Rugby experience have been named in the Vodacom Blue Bulls team, including Conraad van Vuuren, Jannes Kirsten, Andre Warner and Divan Rossouw. Flyhalf Chris Smith, on loan from the Pumas, will also make a first appearance for the team.
The Bulls Team to play Naka Bulle:
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Franco Naude, JT Jackson, Jade Stighling, Chris Smith, Andre Warner, Muller Uys, Tim Agaba, Paul Schoeman, Aston Fortuin, Jannes Kirsten, Conraad van Vuuren, Dewald Maritz, Matthys Basson. Replacements: Stephan Leonard, Nqoba Mxoli, Madot Mabokela, Aaron Brodi, Fred Eksteen, Marco Jansen van Vuuren, Theo Boshoff, Cameron Hufke, Earll Douwrie.
Naka Bulle Team to play the Bulls:
1. Matthys Basson
2. Dewald Maritz
3. Conraad van Vuuren
4. Jannes Kirsten
5. Aston Fortuin
6. Paul Schoeman
7. Tim Agaba
8. Muller Uys
9. Andre Warner
10. Chris Smit
11. Jade Stighling
12. JT Jackson
13. Franco Naude
14. Cornal Hendricks
15. Divan Rossouw
16. Stephan Leonard
17. Nqoba Mxoli
18. Madot Mabokela
19. Aaron Brodi
20. Fred Eksteen
21. Marco Jansen van Vuuren
22. Theo Boshoff
23. Cameron Hufke
24. Earll Douwrie
By: JAY J BOTES
Source: Blue Bulls Media
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