PRETORIA – Languishing in last place on the standings and ravaged by injuries, the Blue Bulls remain surprisingly optimistic ahead of their penultimate Currie Cup clash against the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Bulls have rattled off the changes which are largely caused by injuries with flanks Marco van Staden and Ruan Steenkamp taking a breather due to injuries, while prop Simphiwe Mathanzima has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Tuks flank Fred Steenkamp will get his big break and will be packing down on the side of the scrum with Wian Vosloo. Dayan van der Westhuizen, who is better known as a tighthead prop, will be replacing Mathanzima in the starting lineup.
Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl will wear the captain’s armband replacing Embrose Papier, while Johan Grobbelaar will earn a starting berth ahead of Jaco Visagie.
“Injuries are part of the game, we are looking ahead, our depth is getting slim but there are two matches left and we want to make the best of it,” Pote Human said. “We are now playing for pride and each player will have to show why they want to be part of this team in (the) future.”
The Bulls slipped to last place on the Currie Cup log following their third defeat of the campaign, suffering a 37-15 defeat to Griquas at Loftus.
The Pretoria-based team are dangerously close to the promotion-relegation zone and the host of changes will not do them any favours going up against the unbeaten Lions.
Human castigated his charges for their performance against Griquas last week, labelling it a “disgrace”. The Bulls coach was in a more forgiving mood during his team announcement yesterday.
“We had a long look at ourselves on Monday, we worked very hard and I am really excited for this week,” Human said.
“We have nothing to lose while the Lions will think they are already in the final, so we have something to prove. If it is only for pride, it would be great for me to put one over the Lions again.”
Van Zyl said the Bulls will be looking to end their campaign on a high in their remaining clashes against the Lions and Sharks.
“There are many ifs and buts when you look at our season, but ultimately the performances did not do justice to the effort of the coaching staff and the hopes (of) our supporters,” said Van Zyl, who will lead the team out for the first time.
“We have two more rounds to redeem ourselves and everyone is determined to do just that and finish the season with some dignity and pride restored.”
The Bulls team:
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (captain), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Fred Eskteen, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen.
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Madot Mabokela, Conraad van Vuuren, Adre Smith, Jean Droste, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Stedman Gans.