PRETORIA – The Blue Bulls will rely on the experience of Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff as they look to arrest their decline in the Currie Cup when they take on the Pumas in Nelspruit tonight.
The Nelspruit-born pivot gets his first start of the competition with Manie Libbok shifting to the bench.
Bulls coach Pote Human said the loss of captain Burger Odendaal’s leadership and experience influenced his decision to hand Boshoff the No 10 jersey.
“With Burger still out, we need his (Boshoff’s) experience and his organisation. It is good to have him in, and he is hungry to play and show what he can do,” Human said. “He is a Springbok player that can control the game; he is very important to us this week, especially with all the pressure on us to win in Nelspruit.”
Bok flanker Marco van Staden will pack down on the side of the scrum in place of Roelof Smit in the only other change to the starting XV.
Human admitted his team are desperate to fight their way off the bottom of the log and into contention.
“I feel it is do or die; if we don’t win this one, it is going to be difficult to make the play-offs, the Blue Bulls not reaching the play-offs is not acceptable,” he said.
“I know it is very early in the competition but the reality is that another defeat could be a killer blow for our chances to win the Currie Cup. We need to play with the urgency brought about by that reality and make sure we get our campaign back on track.”
Human was unhappy after his side’s 43-27 loss to the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld, questioning his charges’ commitment, particularly on defence.
“They will learn; we worked hard on our defence, the structures are there. But when you miss one-on-one tackles, you can’t coach that, it is about attitude,” he said.
“Yes, you will miss the experienced guys, but these guys need to step up because this is the next generation of Bulls players for Super Rugby.”
The Blue Bulls team is:
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Marnitz Boshoff, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Ruan Steenkamp (capt), Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Adri Smit, Wihan Vosloo, Andre Warner, Manie Libbok, Jade Stighling@ockertde