Sadie's star replaced by housemate JJ
You have to feel a bit for Johan Sadie.
Brought up country from the Cape with a weight of expectation on his shoulders, talk of Springbok colours and a desire to succeed, his 2012 season has not gone as well as he would have liked.
Contrast this to his former Province teammate and fellow trekker JJ Engelbrecht, who sneaked in under the radar, leaving the Mother City with the Western Province Players Player of the year award under his arm, and arrived at Loftus to a good welcome, but nowhere near the same expectation and pressure that Sadie finds himself in the Capital City.
The two, who share a house with Blue Bulls fullback Jurgen Visser, have all but made themselves at home in Pretoria, but their differing fortunes are an interesting contrast on how opportunities can go to some and not to others.
This became even more apparent on Wednesday when Sadie dropped out of the starting line-up to be replaced by Engelbrecht alongside Wynand Olivier as the Vodacom Bulls made two changes to their side to face the MTN Lions at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The other changes may raise less of an eyebrow, especially as Flip van der Merwe was rested after struggling with a hamstring in training this week, leaving Wilhelm Steenkamp to move into the starting line up at five, with Juandre Kruger donning the No 4 jersey.
Interestingly the other change on the bench sees Dewald Potgieter return earlier than expected, especially after he lacerated his tendon in his arm by putting it through a window at a wedding around a month and a bit back. Potgieter initially was scratched in for the tour to Australasia in a fortnight, and then was cleared to play next week against the Brumbies.
As Van der Merwe dropped out, Potgieter came onto the bench a lot earlier than expected, as the medical staff believe he is ready to take the field again.
But back to Sadie, whose run of luck has been desperately unlucky in Pretoria, especially after getting injured in the first game against the Sharks. When he returned he has put in decent performances, but far from the gamebreaking abilities we know he has.
Engelbrecht, on the other hand, has been exceptional as a substitute, grabbing his opportunities as the game opened up in the latter part of the match, and has now staked a claim for a starting spot that is hard to ignore.
Even coach Frans Ludeke has some sympathy with Sadie’s plight.
“He has played well, but it has been difficult for him. It’s a pity but in every game where its opened up we had already made the substitution and taken him off the field, so he hasn’t had the opportunity to get the ball when the game has become open,” Ludeke said, reiterating that they back Sadie and believe while he may take a little longer to get into the game, he certainly will be back with a vengeance at some point in the near future.
Ludeke and his management are hoping that by taking some pressure off Sadie, and bringing him in at a later stage, they may help him settle in a bit faster.
But even he knows that with a margin of error so small, taking chances is what counts at this level. Engelbrecht has taken his, and thus starts against the Lions.
Sadie has some ground now to make up.
Bulls team v Lions: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies (capt), Jacques Potgieter, CJ Stander, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Juandre Kruger, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling.
Substitutes: Bongi Mbonambi, Frik Kirsten, Dewald Potgieter, Arno Botha, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouché, Johann Sadie