New-look backline for Bulls, but Vermeulen, Gqoboka and Louw return for Lions clash
CAPE TOWN – Bulls coach Jake White has been forced to pick a new-look backline for Wednesday’s Currie Cup clash against the Lions due to Covid-19 protocols.
Although he was able to call on captain Duane Vermeulen, prop Lizo Gqoboka and flank Elrigh Louw, White had to rejig his back division on Tuesday, where the likes of Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks and Kurt-Lee Arendse are not available.
That sees a young centre combination of Marnus Potgieter and Jay Cee Nel being brought in, while Under-21 star Stravino Jacobs gets his long-awaited opportunity at left wing.
Jade Stighling will wear the No 14 in the continued absence of the injured Travis Ismaiel.
White spoke on Monday about having to decide whether he will put “all his eggs in one basket” and play his best available side against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday (4pm kickoff), or hedge his bets and mix and match, with an eye on Sunday’s last league game against the Pumas in Mbombela.
It appears as if he has gone for the latter option, as first-choice halfbacks Morné Steyn and Ivan van Zyl are on the bench, with Chris Smith and Embrose Papier getting starts.
But the forwards are almost at full strength, with Vermeulen joined by Louw returning from injury, along with Bok front-rower Gqoboka. There is a new face at lock, with Jan Uys finally ready to play, with both Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi ruled out – which sees another youngster in Janko Swanepoel on the bench.
White has chosen six forwards among the replacements, which is as much to do with countering the Lions’ physicality as it does with the unavailability of a number of outside backs.
The Bulls just need a victory to secure a home semi-final, and would just need one more log point against the Pumas on Sunday to claim top spot on the log for a possible home final.
15 David Kriel 14 Jade Stighling 13 Marnus Potgieter 12 Jay Cee Nel 11 Stravino Jacobs 10 Chris Smith 9 Embrose Papier 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Elrigh Louw 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Jan Uys 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Schalk Erasmus 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar 17 Jacques van Rooyen 18 Marcel van der Merwe 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 Arno Botha 21 Ivan van Zyl 22 Morné Steyn 23 Tim Agaba.