JOHANNESBURG - Having already lost the one game that teams in the Currie Cup can afford to, the Blue Bulls have taken out their big guns in Springboks Trevor Nyakane and Ivan van Zyl ahead of their first home game against the Golden Lions on Saturday.
With an indifferent start to their domestic campaign - beating the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and losing to the Sharks in Durban - the return of Nyakane from injury and Van Zyl from national duty will certainly give the men in blue a psychological and physical boost.
Nyakane has been thrust into the starting line-up in the hope to bring about more stability and dominance to the scrum even though he last played in Super Rugby at the end of May.
Van Zyl, on the other hand, is in dire need of game time having been involved with the Springboks for the start of the Rugby Championship but missed out on playing in the two Tests against Argentina. Blue Bulls coach Pote Human has resisted the temptation to start with Van Zyl and instead will go with Andre Warner at scrumhalf with Van Zyl coming off the bench.
“I believe so. It will lift the guys. We had Jesse (Kriel) last week and fortunately for him and unfortunately for us he has gone back to the Boks to travel to Australia and New Zealand. But to have Trevor and Ivan back is good and they need some game time and they may have an opportunity to play the Tests here in South Africa so we will try help them there. They are very excited and want to play and I’m looking forward to seeing them,” said Blue Bulls coach Pote Human.
Human has also made some changes to his side with young lock Eli Snyman starting ahead of Ruan Nortje who drops to the bench, Jano Venter comes in on the blindside flank for the robust Thembelani Bholi who also starts from the bench.
Vodacom Blue Bulls Team vs Xerox Golden Lions:— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) August 30, 2018
1. Matthys Basson
2. Jaco Visagie
3. Trevor Nyakane
4. Hendre Stassen
5. Eli Snyman
6. Ruan Steenkamp
7. Jano Venter
8. Hanro Liebenberg
Backs:— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) August 30, 2018
9. Andre Warner
10. Manie Libbok
11. Jamba Ulengo
12. JT Jackson
13. Johnny Kotze
14. Jade Stighling
15. Divan Rossouw
In the backline Junior Springbok JT Jackson returns to the starting line-up at inside centre with Johnny Kotze playing at number 13 in place of Kriel. More than just the changes in the side, Human will be looking for an improved performance and an eradication of the numerous handling errors that ultimately led to their demise in Durban.
Having spent the entire week sharpening their handling skills, the Bulls mentor is hopeful that the worst is in the past and there will be no reoccurrence of what happened against the Sharks. “Last weekend it is really our errors that cost us. We had created numerous chances but couldn’t convert. It can only get better I believe,” Human said.