PRETORIA – Blue Bulls coach Pote Human pulled a rabbit out of the hat in starting with Springbok Sevens star Dylan Sage in the hope of inspiring his team to a surprise result in their Currie Cup semi-final clash against Western Province tomorrow.
Sage, who was an integral member of the World Sevens Series conquering Blitzbok outfit, has been handed his first starting berth for the Bulls this season in place of Franco Naude, and Human is hopeful that it will be the change required to spur his team into sending shockwaves throughout Newlands and the entire domestic rugby landscape tomorrow.
“I really believe he can bring something different, he is a good rugby player and he can be a special player with an X-factor, so that’s why we are giving him a chance in this big game,” said Human yesterday.
And in a last ditch effort to rectify the demolition they endured in the scrums in their 34-7 defeat at the hands of the very same Province outfit in their rain-drenched affair at Loftus last week, Human has beefed up his front row by moving Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane from tighthead to loosehead.
Nyakane replaces the inured Matthys Basson and will be embroiled in a mouth-watering duel against fellow Bok prop Wilco Louw, who had a standout performance in the scrums last week.
“We have pride in our own scrums so we will be ready for them. If it is dry, it will be a 50/50 battle,” Human added.
Another change in the Bulls side sees Bok wing Jamba Ulengo being dropped out of the match-day squad with the fit again Duncan Matthews being handed a starting berth on the wing.
Even with the changes that Human has made, the men in blue will need a Herculean effort to knock the reigning champions off their perch, particularly at home and in drier conditions.
While the talk around Loftus this week has been about the Bulls tempting fate and riding the wave of the lottery of playoff matches, Human believes his team won’t just be going to Cape Town to make up the numbers and that they stand a realistic chance of being the first team this season to beat the defending champions.
“Definitely and especially after Saturday in the rain. We know that they are by far the favourites and they deserve that. But we are not just going down to Cape Town to finish the game; we are also on a mission and we can surprise them, I believe,” he said.
Bring on the #CurrieCup semis! Things are heating up in the domestic tournament as fans start predicting this weekend's outcomes. The Vodacom @BlueBullsRugby will be facing DHL Western Province again, while the Xerox Golden Lions will be paying the Cell C Sharks a visit. pic.twitter.com/XtsVym8DFS
The Blue Bulls team is:
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (capt), 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 2 Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane
Reserves: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Frans van Wyk, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Franco Naude.
The Western Province team is:
15 Dillyn Leyds 14 Sergeal Petersen 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Dan Kriel 11 SP Marais 10 Damian Willemse 9 Herschel Jantjies 8 Juarno Augustus 7 Ernst van Rhyn 6 Kobus van Dyk 5 JD Schickerling 4 Chris van Zyl (captain) 3 Wilco Louw 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Ali Vermaak
Reserves: 16 Scarra Ntubeni 17 Caylib Oosthuizen 18 Michael Kumbirai 19 Salmaan Moerat 20 Jaco Coetzee 21 Paul de Wet 22 Josh Stander 23 JJ Engelbrecht