PRETORIA - In a desperate last ditch effort to avert another disastrous campaign, this time in the Currie Cup, the Blue Bulls have swiftly moved to sign former Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff and rising Golden Lions and former SA Schools flank Jano Venter.
The arrival of the duo at Loftus Versfeld coincides with that of Springbok Sevens star Tim Agaba, who has finally joined the Bulls after recovering from an ankle injury sustained during the Blitzbokke’s world conquering season this year.
While Agaba won’t be available for selection ahead of the Bulls' clash against the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday, inside sources have confirmed that Venter could make his debut for the men in blue.
The 23-year-old eMalahleni-born Venter is likely to come in as a replacement for the injured Jannes Kirsten at No 7 as the Bulls look to arrest their two match losing run that has seen them drop from second spot on the log to fourth place.
Boshoff, who began his junior rugby at the Bulls, has been released from his contract with Irish club Connacht after the recent death of his father and will be available to play with immediate effect.
The arrival of Boshoff will help bolster the depleted stocks of the Bulls at flyhalf with Tian Schoeman having left for France at the end of Super Rugby, while Handre Pollard is on national duty and Joshua Stander set to leave for WP at the end of the season.
While the 28-year-old Boshoff did not play Super Rugby for the three time Super Rugby champions, the former Hoerskool Nelspruit utility back did make 24 appearances in the Currie Cup before crossing the Jukskei River to represent the Lions and ultimately earn his one Springbok cap in 2014.
A post shared by marnitzbos (@marnitzbos) on
Bulls coach Nollis Marais will undoubtedly be in a rush to include his new recruits to help turn around his team’s fortunes in the domestic competition. The Bulls will be given a further shot in the arm with the presence of prop Lizo Gqoboka and fullback Warrick Gelant, who have all been released from the Springbok squad.
While Marais has been reluctant to utilise the services of his Springbok players, he will feel that he has little choice but to call on Gqoboka to strengthen his frontrow, while Gelant’s sizzling form will add more venom into an already potent Bulls backline.
Gqoboka, who has extended his stay at Loftus for a further two years until 2019, last played in Super Rugby and his freshness will be vital in anchoring the Bulls scrum against the formidable Cheetahs' pack, while Gelant’s availability is a timely intervention after Duncan Matthews was handed a one match ban on Tuesday for a dangerous tackle in Saturday’s loss against Western Province.
The Bulls also confirmed the extension of contracts of SA ‘A’ lock Jason Jenkins, Junior Springbok prop Gerhard Steenekamp (until 2019) and Matthews for a further three years until 2020.
“This is pretty exciting times for us,” said Xander Janse van Rensburg, the Blue Bulls Company High Performance manager, in a statement yesterday.
"Not only are we getting players of international calibre confirming their confidence in our structures, but we also see current players expressing their desire to build and extend their careers with us.
"This is a humbling endorsement of the process underway in Pretoria. We are hoping to build something special and with quality players like these who just put pen to paper, the results will be seen sooner, rather than later."
New contracts: Marnitz Boshoff (Connacht; flyhalf/fullback) till 2019; Jano Venter (Xerox Golden Lions; No 8, flank) till 2019; Tim Agaba (Springbok Sevens, No 8, loose forward) 2019. Extensions: Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Andre Warner, Gerhard Steenekamp (all 2019), Duncan Matthews (2020).