CAPE TOWN - Two Bulls teams playing on the same day in different competitions - without their Springboks. Can it be done?
Well, it is going to, as the Bulls have qualified for Saturday’s Rainbow Cup final against Benetton in Italy (6.30pm kickoff), while another side will face Western Province in their Currie Cup opener at Loftus Versfeld (4pm kickoff).
Bulls director of rugby and head coach Jake White, when asked about it ahead of the 34-22 victory over the Sharks at Kings Park, said it was “much of a muchness” if they had to make it to the Rainbow Cup final.
What is certain at the moment is that they won’t have seven regular players available – injured quartet Duane Vermeulen, Elrigh Louw, Embrose Papier and Arno Botha, and three others who are in the Springbok squad that they will join in Bloemfontein today - Morné Steyn, Trevor Nyakane and Marco van Staden.
On the plus side, White said last week that loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka “might be available to play against Benetton”. Also, the likes of flyhalf Chris Smith and scrumhalf Zak Burger are sure to be part of the travelling group to Treviso, which is likely to be confirmed on Monday once the Covid-19 test results are received.
The Bulls team have received Covid-19 vaccines, and are set to fly to Treviso via Amsterdam on Monday night.
The Bulls’ depth goes deep, with others like James Verity-Amm, Richard Kriel, Dawid Kellerman and Jan Uys who can be considered as well.
“It was also a difficult one for me because once we scored our fourth try, basically we couldn’t get caught, then you almost don’t want to get injuries for next week. So, it’s like a balancing act – you think I’ve got to give everyone a game because I don’t want any injuries,” White said about the Sharks match.
“But at the same time, you’re just on the cusp of getting some momentum. So, it was a difficult one for a coach to make a call there (to substitute some players). But looking back, we got what we wanted, and no serious injuries.”
Lukhanyo Am sits down Marco van Staden to send through Werner Kok who finds Siya Kolisi to finish off a brilliant try for the Sharks in their loss to the Bulls 🔥![CDATA]>💨 pic.twitter.com/0usBkMzQur— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) June 12, 2021
For the Currie Cup clash against Western Province, the Bulls management have put some plans into place, but there could be a number of debutants selected.
“We will have to select from who is left over, and from our Carlton League club players. We have been planning for a while now for the Currie Cup because we knew we would be short of players,” White said.
“We have lost seven or eight players to the SA Under-20 camp in Cape Town. I’ve got Pine Pienaar, who’s a technical guy (coach) in our squad, and he has been working behind the scenes to make sure we watched a couple of Carlton League (club) games as well.
“Then we will put a team together from the guys left over, and the guys who have been training with us for the last 10 days. So, I think we should be okay.”