Bulls ready for full on Shark strike
CAPE TOWN - Jake White expects the “whole kitchen sink” from the Sharks, and says a successful outing for his experimental Bulls side would be a huge positive heading into the Rainbow Cup.
While Sharks coach Sean Everitt picked virtually his strongest possible team for today’s preparation clash at Jonsson Kings Park, White went largely the other way with his selection yesterday.
Only flyhalf Morne Steyn and loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka are first-choices in the Bulls starting
XV, with major tests in Durban waiting for the front row and centre combinations in particular.
Apart from Gqoboka, youngster Schalk Erasmus will line up at hooker, while Marcel van der Merwe makes his long-awaited return to action after a lengthy conditioning stint on the sidelines, having battled when he returned to Loftus last year.
They will come up against a powerhouse Sharks trio in Ox Nche, Fez Mbatha and Thomas du Toit, and following the Bulls’ scrum problems against the Stormers last week, they will be under pressure tonight.
“A guy like Marcel van der Merwe has worked incredibly hard: he’s lost 10kg and has been working with Jannie Brooks ... not only on his conditioning, but on his scrumming, which I am keen to see,” White said yesterday.
“It’s been a bit difficult as I’ve had to try all four different hookers, different combinations at prop.
“I am looking forward to the scrum contest. Marcel van der Merwe’s come back, Lizo hasn’t played for ages, and we all know how good Lizo is. Schalk Erasmus hasn’t played for ages, so it’s the first time I’m playing this front row as well, and I am quite keen to see how this front row does against Ox and Thomas.
“If they scrum well, it will mean we have so much more depth in our team compared to what we had four months ago.”
It is a tricky situation in the midfield, though, where Stedman Gans has been ruled out for 10 weeks with an ankle injury, while Stravino Jacobs – who White wanted to try out at No 13 – will miss six weeks with a broken finger.
White was pleased with Marco Jansen van Vuren’s displays in midfield, but now last season’s Bulls Under-21 combo, Dawid Kellerman and Marnus Potgieter, will have to prove themselves against established Sharks duo Marius Louw and captain Lukhanyo Am.
“Duffy (Kellerman) comes from Paarl Gym, really good pedigree.
He’s been up here for a while now, and has some good talent – great passing skills, great evasive skills. We are looking for someone to be an understudy to Cornal (Hendricks) in that No 12 jersey,” White said.
“I am expecting the whole kitchen sink to be chucked at us this Friday night! So, it’s a great test for us to see with this group of players – who have never played together. Unfortunately, there is rain expected in Durban today and tomorrow, so maybe it won’t be as free-flowing as everyone would like. That also adds another dimension to how we manage the game.”
Starting XV: 15 Richard Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Dawid Kellerman, 11 Diego Appollis, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Nizaam Carr (capt), 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka Replacements: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 JayCee Nel, 24 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 25 Reinhardt Ludwig, 26 Bernard van der Linde, 27 Niel Beukes