PRETORIA – Blue Bulls coach Pote Human faces a tricky selection poser on who to start at number nine with both if his Springbok scrumhalves available to play against Western Province in their Currie Cup encounter on Saturday.
The Loftus Versfeld based outfit received a windfall in player personnel this week when the national team released scrumhalves Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl and prop Trevor Nyakane and loose forward Marco van Staden.
It is almost certain that Nyakane and Van Staden will feature prominently in the Bulls starting line-up for the north south derby against Western Province in the capital over the weekend but Human will have a few sleepless nights deciding on who will start between Papier and Van Zyl.
“They are all excellent players and hungry to get game time. They are very focussed on this weekend and they bring a new vibe to the team,” said Human on Tuesday.
But Human seems to be leaning on the voice of reason that could see Van Zyl get the nod because of his involvement with the team during the Currie Cup.
Even though both players have spent most of the domestic season carrying tackle bags and drawing the short end of the stick by collecting splinters in sitting on the bench, Papier could find himself having to start from the bench after only playing a few of minutes in a friendly match in Namibia recently.
While Papier has not played domestic rugby for his union this season and had one cameo showing in the dying moments of the Test against the All Blacks last weekend, Human could come for some criticism with Papier considered higher up the pecking order in the national team and therefore an obvious choice to start for the Bulls.
As Human spends another night tossing and turning in bed contemplating who will start and who won’t at scrumhalf, there is also the unfortunate circumstance of Andre Warner who is set to miss out the remainder of the season after playing well in the absence of Papier and Van Zyl.
“It’s a difficult one, both are very good players same as Andre Warner who has done well in the Currie Cup for us. But the guys coming back from the Boks I will give them both an opportunity in the squad and I still have to make a decision on who is going to start. Ivan at this stage is the more experienced guy but we’ll make a call on Thursday morning.”
With a beefing up of their player personnel and the incentive of possibly finishing second on the log and securing a home semifinal if they win, that is if the Sharks lose to Griquas in Kimberley, the Bulls still feel hard done by the format of the competition after lying idle for three weeks which Human admits could have an impact on the momentum they had picked up after two consecutive wins.
At the same time, Human says his side needs no motivation coming up against their bitter rivals and the number one team in the competition.
“That’s very true. But when you play against Western Province you don’t need any motivation. It is a game that we need to win to secure our place in the semis so it will be like a final. I know they are a good side and will want to end the campaign unbeaten so it is going to be an awesome game.
The way they play, they are definitely the best side at this stage in the competition. We can’t wait for Saturday.”@Vata_Ngobeni