Pretoria – Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar is far from being a mathematician but the one thing he backs himself on is having a rugby brain sufficient to win games for his team.
In the process of trying to engineer a victory for his side in Saturday’s do-or-die clash against the Free State Cheetahs where a place in the Currie Cup semi-finals is at stake, Pienaar has placed his beliefs in the talents of Springbok centre pairing of Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht.
As expected, Pienaar has named both players in the starting line-up ahead of Saturday’s clash in Bloemfontein. He made no secret of it that he expects the duo to provide the necessary magic for the Bulls to win and ultimately gain that last semi-final berth.
Serfontein and Engelbrecht will certainly be a shot in the arm for the Bulls and will increase their chances of an unlikely bonus point win with a margin of 12 points as they both have been in sublime form during the international season for the Springboks.
As difficult decision as it was for Pienaar to drop Francois Venter and William Small-Smith from the starting line-up, Pienaar could rest assured that Serfontein and Engelbrecht are the two best players to help the Bulls achieve mission impossible.
Pienaar has also made a reshuffle among his pack of forwards, specifically in the loose trio, with the robust ball carrying N0 8 Jacques Engelbrecht earning his second start since joining the Bulls this season.
Captain Jono Ross will be moving to flank in place of Wiaan Liebenberg, who drops to lead the Blue Bulls under-21 team.
“I think every week when we choose a side it is the best side we can pick. I feel sorry for Francois Venter and William Small-Smith losing their spots, but guys like Jan and JJ coming from the Springboks add a massive influence in the side. Hopefully they want to do well and want to contribute to the side’s goal. This is the best 22 players we can pick.
“I’m excited about this squad. There are a lot of players who didn’t make the 22 who I feel sorry for.
“I know they will put up a good fight and I can’t wait,” Pienaar said at yesterday’s team announcement.
The fight Pienaar will seek from his side will certainly be for the four tries.
But their biggest weapon going to Bloemfontein will be their ability to defend, as was evident in the Bulls stopping the Sharks from crossing the try-line last Friday.
“I don’t think that just a win will be sufficient. There are certain challenges for us ahead.
“We have to go out and score four tries but I think it is the manner of how you approach the game to score those four tries.
“For us the biggest challenge is that they only need the bonus point and we aren’t in control of their approach, so we have to make sure that we have a great start.
“All the games they have played there they have had great starts,” Pienaar said.
Blue Bulls: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross (captain), David Bullbring, Paul Willemse, Frik Kirsten, Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: Bandise Maku, Werner Kruger, Grant Hattingh, Jean Cook, Lohan Jacobs, Francois Venter, Clayton Blommetjies.