The Blue Bulls will be looking for an early upset in this year’s Currie Cup competition with the truncated format leaving no room for slip-ups as they kick off the campaign against Western Province in Cape Town.
A decade-long trophy drought has piled the pressure on the Light Blues with a number of their stalwarts out of action due to Springbok duties.
Blue Bulls captain Burger Odendaal said they needed to hit the ground running.
“It is a short round with three home games and if you can get an away win and points it will put you on a good spot on the log,” Odendaal said.
“There is no margin for error this year, six games, two semis and a final, so you have to give your all every game.”
Blue Bulls mentor Pote Human said the tournament served as a challenge for his side depleted by a player exodus.
“It is a young squad again for Currie Cup, and the guys just have to use the opportunities, then we can make it a great season,” Human said.
“Especially with our start against Province away then Cheetahs with a full Pro-14 team here. That is a challenge for our guys; we want to try and win this competition. It will be tough, I mean Province at Newlands is always a big game.”
Springbok lock Lood de Jager’s return from a shoulder injury will add extra oomph in a North-South derby.
“Lood is a world-class player, and we are fortunate to have him for this game, he must prove himself to (Springbok coach) Rassie (Erasmus), and he will bring something to the team especially because he has to prove a point,” Human said.
“He is ready and fit again. We will see how the game goes, but he is ready, we had a great session now, and he was in it the whole time. He is in a good mind frame, and he is physically right to play.”
Human surprised with the inclusion of new recruit Wian Vosloo, who will slot in at the side of the scrum, just days after arriving at Loftus.
The backline, with the exception of Handre Pollard and Warrick Gelant, is similar to the one that carried them throughout the Super Rugby campaign. The pack has a more youthful look with the majority of the stalwarts doing duty with the Springboks.
The Blue Bulls team: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (captain), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager, Ruan Nortjie, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Roelof Smit, Ivan van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff, Dylan Sage.