Blue Bulls coach Pote Human admits that his team are “playing for pride” for the rest of the Currie Cup, but there is more at stake than that.
The Pretoria side are rock bottom of the log with just five points after four matches, and can only reach a maximum of 15.
With the Sharks already on six points and a game in hand above them, it is entirely possible that the Bulls could face a promotion-relegation match at the end of the tournament if they finish last.
So, Human will hope that a raft of changes to the side for Saturday’s Gauteng derby against the Golden Lions at Ellis Park will spark them into action.
Some of the new faces come in due to injury, with Springbok flank Marco van Staden and fellow loose forward Ruan Steenkamp ruled out.
Loosehead prop Simphiwe Matanzima is also not ready to play, so the likes of Dayan van der Westhuizen and Johan Grobbelaar are in the front row, and there’s a first start for Tuks flank Fred Eksteen.
Former Lions lock Andries Ferreira will hope to prove a point to his former team, while Wian Vosloo replaces Van Staden.
Bok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl will captain the side, with regular skipper Burger Odendaal still out injured.
“The injury bogey did hit us hard and that on a weekend where one would have wanted to play with all your main players fit and ready,” Human said on Wednesday.
“That said, the likes of Fred worked hard all season and now gets the chance to show what he can do. I would not have included him in our training squad in the first place if I did not trust his abilities.
“We are now playing for pride, and each player will have to show why they want to be part of this team in future.”
Van Zyl added: “There are many if 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.
“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.”
Blue Bulls Team
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (captain), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Fred Eksteen, Ruan Nortjé, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen.
Bench: Jaco Visagie, Madot Mabokela, Conraad van Vuuren, Adré Smith, Jean Droste, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Stedman Gans.@ashfakmohamed