Bulls bring back their Boks
In a perfect world they wouldn’t have to play, but staring down the barrel at a possible promotion-relegation match, the Vodacom Blue Bulls have brought back all seven players who returned from the Springbok squad this week for their crucial game against the MTN Golden Lions at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.
There is no doubt the return of the Boks has given a welcome boost in confidence to the Bulls team, who celebrated a victory over Western Province on Friday night to keep them in the hunt for a semifinal spot.
But with the scenario rather clear – a win could mean an Absa Currie Cup semifinal place, while a loss puts them into the promotion-relegation playoffs – the Bulls are looking to channel their energy ahead of one of their most crucial games of the season.
This means that Zane Kirchner, Morne Steyn, Arno Botha, Jacques Potgieter, Flip van der Merwe and Juandre Kruger all are back in the starting line-up while Francois Hougaard will play off the bench and allow the Bulls a five-two split.
The seven players come after Boks Bjorn Basson, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Dean Greyling returned to the squad last week and will allow the Bulls their strongest line-up this Currie cup season.
But for those who were worried about integrating the Bok players back into the system, captain Dewald Potgieter moved to allay those fears. The flanker said that the players knew very well they were playing for the survival of the union, and that he expected them to respond accordingly.
“We know we have a lot on the line for the guys. I’m expecting the guys to have the best game of the season this week. We have been working towards that in the last three weeks and now we need to deliver,” Potgieter said.
“I’m expecting that, because that is what we will need, especially if we want to go further in the competition.”
“We want to create a situation where they are joining us, we’re not joining them. So there is something to gain from where we have come from in the season and the energy we have created over the past few weeks. They have joined with us and they will feed off our energy.
Still, the Bulls know very well the fine line they tread at the moment, and at least will know what their task will be when they get out on the field.
They have the talent back in the team, and there are some players – including flyhalf Morne Steyn – with a point to prove. That all counts in their favour at the moment.
VODACOM BLUE BULLS: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Arno Botha, Jacques Potgieter, Dewald Potgieter (captain), Flip van der Merwe, Juandre Kruger, Werner Kruger, Willie Wepener, Morne Mellett.
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Frik Kirsten, Wilhelm Steenkamp, CJ Stander, Francois Hougaard, Louis Fouche, Dean Greyling.