Jacques du Plessis, Ruan Combrinck set for Bulls debuts against Cheetahs
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CAPE TOWN - NEW signings Jacques du Plessis and Ruan Combrinck will make their Bulls debuts off the bench in Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.
Du Plessis, who has played in France for a number of years, is designated as a lock replacement, although he can also operate at blindside flank, while former Lions star Combrinck is a utility back.
One of the more interesting selections in the starting line-up is Marco Jansen van Vuren, who will be at scrumhalf. The former SA Under-20 player featured as a halfback for the Lions previously, but didn’t quite make the grade there at the Bulls.
He filled in as an outside centre and wing last season, but he hasn’t had much of a chance in midfield during the Currie Cup following the arrival of Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe from overseas, while Stedman Gans is also now back from the Blitzboks.
Jansen van Vuren will hope to rediscover his spark as a No 9, with his unusually big size for a halfback being a handy weapon for the Bulls during the United Rugby Championship in wet European conditions later this year.
Coach Jake White has reinforced the backline for Saturday’s match (4.45pm kickoff), which the Bulls need to win to be assured of top spot on the log and a home semi-final and final. They are four points ahead of the Sharks, who face Western Province at 7pm in Durban.
David Kriel is at fullback in place of youngster Sibongile Novuka, while Madosh Tambwe is reinstated at right wing, with Kurt-Lee Arendse on the left.
Cornal Hendricks and Mapoe will form the centre pairing, while young tyro Jan-Hendrik Wessels gets a start at hooker after impressing off the bench lately.
“It has been a gruelling past few weeks of competitive rugby in the round stages of the Currie Cup, where the team has seen plenty of learning and growth while being tested by quality opposition,” White said on Friday.
“Yes, we are close to the business end of the competition – the playoffs – but we still have a tough Cheetahs team to face in this final round. They too will be out to end their campaign on a high note, while we will be intent on drawing closer to that perfect game which will be needed in the knockout stages.”
For the Cheetahs, captain Ruan Pienaar returns to scrumhalf after playing at flyhalf in the 28-19 defeat to the Pumas last week, with Reinhard Fortuin at No 10.
The exciting Varsity Cup star Cohen Jasper lines up at fullback in place of Clayton Blommetjies, and veteran Schalk Ferreira is at loosehead prop.
Teams For Loftus Versfeld
Bulls: 15 David Kriel 14 Madosh Tambwe 13 Lionel Mapoe 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Johan Goosen 9 Marco Jansen van Vuren 8 Elrigh Louw 7 WJ Steenkamp 6 Arno Botha (captain) 5 Ruan Nortjé 4 Janko Swanepoel 3 Mornay Smith 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Joe van Zyl 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Jacques van Rooyen 19 Jacques du Plessis 20 Jaco Labuschagne 21 Keagan Johannes 22 Chris Smith 23 Ruan Combrinck.
Cheetahs: 15 Cohen Jasper 14 Duncan Saal 13 Evardi Boshoff 12 Siya Masuku 11 Malcolm Jaer 10 Reinhardt Fortuin 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain) 8 Mihlali Mosi 7 Aidon Davis 6 Marnus van der Merwe 5 Victor Sekekete 4 Rynier Bernardo 3 Aranos Coetzee 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Bench: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi 17 Hencus van Wyk 18 Conraad van Vuuren 19 Reinier Viljoen 20 Oupa Mohoje 21 Tian Meyer 22 David Brits 23 Chris Smit.