Independent Online

Friday, May 20, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

No Jacques Van Rooyen, but what else is Jake cooking up?

Blue Bulls loosehead Lizo Gqoboka might be used off the bench against the Cheetahs. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Blue Bulls loosehead Lizo Gqoboka might be used off the bench against the Cheetahs. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 3, 2020


CAPE TOWN - The Bulls will have to field a new starting loosehead prop, but what else is Jake White cooking up for the Cheetahs?

Jacques van Rooyen has been suspended for a week for a dangerous tackle on Western Province fullback Warrick Gelant in last Saturday’s 22-20 victory at Newlands, which means the Bulls No 1 will sit out Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against Free State at Loftus Versfeld (4.30pm kickoff).

Story continues below Advertisement

Gerhard Steenekamp has been playing off the bench for most of the season, with Van Rooyen starting in the absence of Springbok Lizo Gqoboka. The latter began training with the team last week after recovering from a calf injury, although he was deemed not to be ready to face WP.

The best option for White might be to hand Steenekamp a start, and play Gqoboka off the bench if he is fit enough.

But the intrigue doesn’t end there. Yesterday, the Bulls camp notified the media that the usual Thursday team announcement had been shifted to Friday this week. But that would have been in breach of the rules, which require teams to be announced publicly 48 hours before kick-off.

That means the latest that the Bulls could name their side is at 4.30pm today. When this fact was pointed out to the team management, it took less than 20 minutes for the team announcement press conference to be changed back to today at 4pm, just inside the 48-hour window.

A subsequent request from the Bulls was made to change the press conference to 5pm, but again, it was pointed out that such a time would be too late in terms of the rules. So, now the team will be announced at 4.30pm today, with the press conference at 5pm.

What was the need to move it to Friday? When asked, no answer was forthcoming from the Bulls. But you can be sure that White has something up his sleeve.

Story continues below Advertisement

The former Springbok coach has been cagey about the team’s injury situation all season long. Ahead of the Super Rugby Unlocked opener against Griquas, he did away with the regular Monday injury update from the Bulls team doctor, saying that it “amounts to me giving my team to the opposition as early as Monday”.

White is still smarting from the Bulls’ 19-17 defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in the second Unlocked match, and may look to catch the Free State side off guard at Loftus on Saturday.

So, apart from the front row where Van Rooyen is unavailable, Morné Steyn is back with the team after fulfilling Covid-19 isolation protocols, and could reclaim the No 10 jersey from Chris Smith.

Story continues below Advertisement

Will captain Duane Vermeulen get a well-deserved breather after leading his team to the Unlocked title, and a memorable first Currie Cup win in 11 years over WP at Newlands?

Openside flank Marco van Staden has also been going non-stop through the season, while at the same time, other loose forwards such as Nizaam Carr, Tim Agaba and youngster Muller Uys need to get more game time in case of injuries at the play-off stages.

At lock, Sintu Manjezi has been waiting patiently on the bench for his first Bulls start, so what better game than against his former team alongside the man he partnered at the Cheetahs, Walt Steenkamp?

Story continues below Advertisement

All will be revealed at 4.30pm today …

Related Topics: