Ludeke rolls out the big guns
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has rolled out the big guns for his team’s pre-season friendly against the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane on Saturday.
Ludeke named a team that included captain Pierre Spies and 11 other Springboks in the starting line-up, as well as another four on the bench as the rest of the squad gets a chance to get a run.
Missing from the outfit are Boks Deon Stegmann and Zane Kirchner, while impressive young fullback Jurgen Visser gets another chance to impress this weekend after starring in the win over the Lions in Soweto last weekend. Kirchner was not considered because of a back strain while Stegmann was given the weekend off for personal reasons.
The fullback and prop Morne Mellett are the only two players in the starting line-up without Super Rugby experience, while players who starred in the Lions win last week Arno Botha, Jano Vermaak, Lionel Mapoe and Grant Hattingh are all on the bench in an enlarged replacements squad.
The Bulls also have decided to bench veteran Bok Wynand Olivier, mainly because he only returned to South Africa from Japan this past week and they are keen to see how the midfield combination of JJ Engelbrecht and Francois Venter do together.
Two Lions players – Mapoe and Callie Visagie – both on loan, are on the bench as well.
It is clear the Bulls players are champing at the bit to get on the field, as was reiterated by Spies at the team announcement.
“It’s about time, we’re at that point of the season where you’re tired of just training,” Spies said, “We now want to begin playing. For me it’s great to come back from my injury and a good break and it is an exciting start to the year.”
The Bulls believe the Cheetahs team – which is set to be at its strongest as well – will be a great test for them – one which will ask some telling questions of their defence.
“The Cheetahs love to give the ball air and they will ask a lot of questions from our defence. It is important that we’re awake and ready for them. It is the first game for us, so it’s important that we focus on what we want to do.”
It is clear that with only one player who faced the Lions left in the starting line-up, the Bulls are looking to give all their players a run. However, it is interesting that their young guns – Handre Pollard and Jan Serfontein – have been included in the Vodacom Cup team to face the Limpopo Blue Bulls this weekend.
Still, with both sides looking strong, Ludeke will have a good idea on his side’s prospects after this weekend.
Bulls team: 15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Jacques Potgieter,6. Dewald Potgieter, 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle,1. Morne Mellet.
Replacements: 16. Callie Visagie, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Grant Hattingh, 19. Arno Botha, 20. Jano Vermaak, 22. Ulrich Beyers,23. Lionel Mapoe, 24. Wynand Olivier.