‘No spice’ between Jake White and Peter de Villiers, but still a lot at stake
CAPE TOWN - THE fact that the new South African rugby season kicks off with a ‘competition’ that doesn’t even have a proper name may make fans think that there is little at stake.
But when Nizaam Carr leads the Bulls onto Loftus Versfeld at 3pm today to take on Eastern Province in the Preparation Series, there will be a lot to play for from both sides.
For the Bulls, the team selected by Jake White has a back-up look about it, but that is precisely why it is important for the players and coaches. The EP clash is not just about testing depth, but several men will be aiming to catch the eye and push for starting positions when the big guns return for the Rainbow Cup in mid-April.
Madosh Tambwe has just arrived from the Sharks, and would want to make the No 14 jersey his own, now that Kurt-Lee Arendse has rejoined the Blitzboks sevens team in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
Scrum-half Embrose Papier is in a similar boat, with Ivan van Zyl scheduled to leave for Saracens in England at the end of June. And experienced loose forwards Carr and Tim Agaba would want to remind White of exactly what they are capable of, having hardly featured in the Currie Cup.
The last time White gave his reserves an opportunity, it ended in a 44-14 mauling at the hands of the Pumas in January. But this time around, the former Springbok coach feels his players will be ready for the expected onslaught from EP.
White also didn’t want to say too much about the fact that two former Springbok coaches will be up against one another, with Peter de Villiers now in charge of the Elephants.
But he warned his players that despite the nightmare period that the team from Gqeberha have had to endure over the last few years – which culminated in the Southern Kings franchise closing its doors – this new EP squad will be determined to make a statement on the pitch.
“There is no spice. We are ex-Springbok coaches, but I suppose I haven’t had much to do with Peter. I lived overseas for a long time.
“He’s a good coach, and I’m sure he’s going to get them up this weekend. He will bring lots of energy to them, and it’s quite an exciting game for us because we are not sure what to expect,” said White.
“Everyone’s under the impression that they are club guys and they haven’t played much, but there are a couple of guys who will see this as a massive opportunity to put themselves on a stage, and look to get big unions to try and get them into their unions.”
BULLS: 15 David Kriel 14 Madosh Tambwe 13 Marnus Potgieter 12 Marco Jansen van Vuren 11 Stravino Jacobs 10 Chris Smith 9 Embrose Papier 8 WJ Steenkamp 7 Tim Agaba 6 Nizaam Carr (captain) 5 Janko Swanepoel 4 Jan Uys 3 Mornay Smith 2 Joe van Zyl 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench: 16 Janco Uys 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 18 Gerhard van der Merwe 19 Raynard Roets 20 Uzile Tele 21 Keagan Johannes 22 Jandre Burger 23 Diego Appollis 24 Reinhardt Ludwig 25 Werner Gouws 26 Dawid Kellerman.
15 Riaan Arendse 14 Josiah Twum-Boafo 13 Christopher Hollis 12 Sherwin Slater 11 Qeutyne Oerson 10 Inny Radebe (captain) 9 Luvo Claasen 8 Luigi van Jaarsveld 7 Anele Lungisa 6 CJ Velleman 5 Mncedisi Diwengu 4 Athenkosi Manenze 3 Lupumlo Mguca 2 Robin Stevens 1 Lyle Lombard.
Bench: 16 Sithembiso Befile 17 Siyakubonga Nzuzo 18 Emile Klassen 19 Ronald Sheckle 20 Arnold Kleyne 21 Diego Williams 22 Josh Allderman 23 Keanu Vers.
Referee: Stuart Berry. Kick-off: 3pm.
■ In the other match today, the backbone of the Sharks team that will do duty in the Rainbow Cup will not feature in today’s preparation match against Griquas at Jonsson Kings Park (5.15pm).
SHARKS: 15 Aphelele Fassi 14 Werner Kok 13 Jeremy Ward (capt) 12 Murray Koster 11 Antony Volminck 10 Manie Libbok 9 Grant Williams 8 Phepsi Buthelezi 7 Thembelani Bhosi 6 James Venter 5 Hyron Andrews 4 JJ van der Mescht 3 Michael Kumberai 2 Kerron van Vuuren 1 Khwezi Mona
Replacements: Fez Mbatha, Ntuthuka Mchunu, John-Hubert Meyer, Reniel Hugo, Mpilo Gumede, Jaden Hendrikse, Jordan Chait, Thaakir Abrahams.