PRETORIA – The Bulls will start with four Springboks and three debutantes in their opening Super Rugby clash against the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Bulls coach John Mitchell wasted no time including the fit again Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard, fullback Warrick Gelant, centre Jesse Kriel and lock Lood de Jager to his side while flank Thembelani Bholi, wing Johnny Kotze and prop Frans van Wykk will be making their franchise debuts after having played for the Southern kings and Stormers, respectively.
Former Springbok and Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss will start from the bench along with Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff who is also set to make his Bulls debut while loose forward Marco van Staden and Junior Springbok Embrose Papier are likely to make their Super Rugby debuts.
Mitchell says his team have made good progress in the preseason and he has rewarded the players who starred in the three warm-up matches.
“The team has evolved through the preseason and naturally the preseason is not all plans come together and some of the athletes still behind the timeline. But they will be ready in time. Ultimately we’ve gone for the best mix based on the way we’ve prepared and the athletes have performed during the trial phase,” said Mitchell.
The Bulls will go into Saturday’s encounter as the underdogs but Mitchell is confident that his team can beat any side in the competition on the day depending on how they play.
“It will be the first performance and at the end of the day when we decide to outwork teams then we’ll be very difficult to stop. So we hope that starts this weekend,” Mitchell added.
Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal (captain), Johnny Kotze, Handré Pollard, Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg, Thembelani Bholi, Roelof Smit, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Frans van Wyk, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman.
Bench: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, Nic de Jager, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Divan Rossouw.