PRETORIA – All competitions regardless of their stature are won primarily on experience and that is what Blue Bulls coach Pote Human will be banking on in this year’s Currie Cup.
Having inherited a young but relatively experienced side with most of his players having played Super Rugby for the past two years, the Bulls will look to the players who have played at a higher level to guide them through their first two games, which are away from home against the mighty Free State and the Sharks.
Human has wasted no time selecting a rather familiar starting team packed with Super Rugby caps and a Springbok in wing Jamba Ulengo, while Junior Springbok lock Ruan Nortje is the only player in the starting team that is yet to play Super Rugby.
“It is still a young side and all of them besides Ruan Nortje have got Super Rugby experience, so it is nice motivation for us playing against the PRO14 side of the Cheetahs; there is nothing to stand back for. We know it is going to be a big challenge and they have a good side but we are looking forward to it,” Human said.
While Nortje may lack experience in senior rugby, Human is confident that the lanky second rower will certainly not be found wanting judging by the performances he had for the Junior Springboks at the Junior World Championships in France in June.
“We prefer to go with Ruan this week ahead of Hendre Stassen, who can also play at five lock. He is a very exciting player, I watched him playing for the Junior Boks and he did a great job there. It is exciting times for him too.”
Human’s apprehension at talking up the experience within his team stems from the equally strong Cheetahs side they will be playing against in Bloemfontein tomorrow night.
The Cheetahs have put together a formidable side that will also be participating in the upcoming PRO14 competition, leaving their fringe players and juniors to contest the remainder of the domestic competition.
The side from Bloemfontein are crammed with players who played in Super Rugby and in the PRO14 competition and will be boosted by the presence of three Springboks in captain and flanker Oupa Mohoje, scrumhalf Rudy Paige and prop Ox Nche.
“It is obviously going to be a huge challenge for us' added the Bulls coach. “Not all the teams in the Currie Cup will play against the Cheetahs' PRO14 side but if we want to win this competition we will have to beat every team on any day.”
The Blue Bulls team is:
Divan Rossouw, Jade Stighling, Johnny Kotze, JT Jackson, Jamba Ulengo, Manie Libbok, Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg (captain), Thembelani Bholi, Ruan Steenkamp, Ruan Nortje, Ruben van Heerden, Conrad van Vuuren, Edgar Marutlulle, Matthys Basson
Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Hendre Stassen, Jano Venter, Theo Maree, Tony Jantjies, Earll Douwrie
The Free State Cheetahs team is:
Malcolm Jaer, Sibahle Mnxwane, Berhard Janse van Rensburg, Nico Lee, William Small-Smith, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Neill Jordaan, Oupa Mohoje, Junior Pokomela, JP du Preez, Justin Basson, Luan de Bruin, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche
Replacements: Jacques du Toit, Erich de Jager, Gunther Janse van Vuuren, Dennis Visser, Gerhard Olivier, Shaun Venrter, Louis Fouche
Kick-off for the Free State v Blue Bulls match in Bloemfontein is 7pm.