Bulls’ Gio Aplon, Marcell Coetzee will add ’great experience’ against Stormers
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CAPE TOWN - Gio Aplon will be back on a rugby pitch on Friday night, and Marcell Coetzee will make his debut for the Bulls in their Rainbow Cup SA clash against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kickoff).
Aplon has been out for several months with an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) knee injury, and it was initially thought that he would only return in July.
But the 38-year-old Springbok utility back’s rehabilitation has gone well, and he will come off the bench to give the Bulls attack some spark in the second half.
Openside flank Coetzee has also recovered from a thigh injury that brought his five-year stint at Ulster in Northern Ireland to a premature end, and he will be keen to make an impression on the Springbok selectors ahead of the national team squad announcement on Saturday night.
Another Test player, scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, returns from injury and will start against the Stormers, with Embrose Papier still injured. There is a new-look front row as well, with young props Gerhard Steenekamp and Mornay Smith reinstated, with Lizo Gqoboka injured and Trevor Nyakane on the bench.
“We’ve welcomed back Gio and Ivan from injury, while Marcell gets his first start for us. It’s great having experience of this calibre coming back into our system as we head into the business end of the tournament,” White said.
“The loss against the Lions put things into perspective as we cannot afford even one slip up in terms of the log. We need to make amends for it, and there’s not many things tougher than a classic North-South derby.”
15 David Kriel 14 Madosh Tambwe 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Stravino Jacobs 10 Morné Steyn 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Elrigh Louw 6 Marcell Coetzee 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Mornay Smith 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Schalk Erasmus 17 Jacques van Rooyen 18 Trevor Nyakane 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 Marco van Staden 21 Zak Burger 22 Chris Smith 23 Gio Aplon.
Additional reserves: 24 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 25 Muller Uys 26 Jan Uys 27 James Verity-Amm 28 Keagan Johannes.