Arno Botha captain as Bulls ring changes for Pumas clash
CAPE TOWN – Just four members of the Bulls starting XV that beat the Lions last Wednesday have been retained for Sunday’s Currie Cup clash against the Pumas in Mbombela.
But coach Jake White did spring a surprise by including first-choice halfback pair Ivan van Zyl and Morné Steyn for the dead-rubber encounter in Mpumalanga (4pm kickoff).
They are the only players in the side who can be regarded as certain starters in the semi-final against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld, which has been moved by a week to January 23 due to the outbreak of Covid-19 positive cases amongst all four teams – the Bulls, Sharks, Western Province and Lions.
The quartet that began in the 22-15 victory over the Lions in midweek and will start again on Sunday are right wing Jade Stighling, centre Marnus Potgieter, wing Stravino Jacobs and lock Jan Uys.
There is a mix of experienced squad players and Under-21 stars in a makeshift Bulls team that will just have to go through the motions to fulfil the Pumas fixture, as they will stay on top of the log regardless of the result.
The home side, though, always have a point to prove, and some of their players would also be determined to impress White or coaches from some of the other top unions for future contracts.
One of the more interesting selections for the Bulls was that of Clinton Swart at fullback. The former Griquas stalwart has operated mainly at flyhalf and inside centre during his career, but White’s options were limited in the back-three as Gio Aplon and Travis Ismaiel are injured, while he is resting current first-choice duo David Kriel and Kurt-Lee Arendse.
Flank Arno Botha will captain the side, while youngsters to look out for are tighthead prop Jan-Hendrik Wessels and reserve scrumhalf Keagan Johannes.
15 Clinton Swart 14 Jade Stighling 13 Marnus Potgieter 12 Dawid Kellerman 11 Stravino Jacobs 10 Morné Steyn 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Tim Agaba 7 Arno Botha (captain) 6 WJ Steenkamp 5 Janko Swanepoel 4 Jan Uys 3 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 2 Joe van Zyl 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar 17 Lizo Gqoboka 18 Marcel van der Merwe 19 Divan Venter 20 Elrigh Louw 21 Keagan Johannes 22 Kabelo Mokoena 23 Jay-Cee Nel.
Travelling reserves: 24 Janco Uys 25 Mornay Smith 26 Johan Mulder.