Johan Grobbelaar boosts Blue Bulls for Western Province showdown
CAPE TOWN - The Blue Bulls have received a major boost ahead of their Currie Cup opener against Western Province as hooker Johan Grobbelaar has been declared fit to play at Newlands on Saturday (7pm kickoff).
Bulls boss Jake White brought Grobbelaar straight into the starting line-up when announcing his team early on Thursday morning, with Corniel Els – who started at No 2 in the 21-5 Super Rugby Unlocked win over the Pumas last week – moving to the bench.
Apart from the front row, White has resisted the temptation to rotate some of his star players such as captain Duane Vermeulen, props Jacques van Rooyen and Trevor Nyakane, and scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl after mentioning that he was considering giving some of them a breather after the Unlocked tournament.
They and other first-choice stalwarts such as Marco van Staden will have to soldier on for at least one more week, as White felt that he needed to take his strongest possible team to Cape Town if the Bulls hope to emerge victorious against a powerful Stormers outfit that boast a World Cup-winning Springbok front row in Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe.
Bok captain Siya Kolisi has also returned to training this week, and could feature off the bench for Province.
Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn is still out of contention following his omission for last week’s match due to Covid-19 protocols, so Chris Smith will continue at No 10 for the log leaders.
“We achieved our first goal of the post-pandemic season, and now we shift our focus to securing the Currie Cup with a massive target on our backs,” White said.
“There are a few teams that can travel to Newlands as favourites, which makes our job harder. Couple that with the fact that Western Province are always a difficult team to face, home or away, and fans can expect a true old school North-South Derby.”
15 David Kriel 14 Travis Ismaiel 13 Stedman Gans 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Chris Smith 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Arno Botha 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Bench: 16 Corniel Els 17 Gerhard Steenekamp 18 Marcel van der Merwe 19 Sintu Manjezi 20 Nizaam Carr 21 Embrose Papier 22 Clinton Swart 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.