Chris Smith starts as Bulls aim to finish off in style against Pumas
CAPE TOWN - Former Maties pivot Chris Smith will make his first start for the Bulls in Saturday’s final Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Pumas in Pretoria.
Smith will wear the No 10 jersey of Morné Steyn, who is being given a breather by coach Jake White after a superb campaign in guiding the Bulls to the top of the log.
The champions-in-waiting will have a few other fresh faces in the starting side named on Thursday, with lock Ruan Nortje returning to the No 5 jumper and Walt Steenkamp shifting to No 4 in place of Jason Jenkins, who has gone back to his Japanese club Toyota Verblitz.
Springbok flank Arno Botha has been brought back as well at blindside flank, with youngster Elrigh Louw sitting out, while Corniel Els regains the No 2 jersey as Johan Grobbelaar is nursing an injury.
Utility back Clinton Swart will cover flyhalf on the bench on Saturday (2pm kickoff).
The Bulls have all but secured the title already, with the Pumas having to win by 43 points in order for the Stormers to claim the championship on points difference – after the Capetonians’ clash with the Sharks was cancelled due to some of the Durban side’s players testing positive for Covid-19.
“Due to the Covid pandemic affecting proceedings and the match between the Stormers and Sharks being cancelled, we find ourselves in a more fortunate position than expected. Even though this is not an ideal situation for the tournament and the teams, we all understand that the safety and well-being of all involved comes first,” White said in a statement on Thursday.
“We as a team want to ensure that if we are to be named champions, then we want to do it the right way, with a win against a good Pumas team.”
15 David Kriel 14 Travis Ismaiel 13 Stedman Gans 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Chris Smith 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Arno Botha 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Corniel Els 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Bench: 16 Joe van Zyl 17 Gerhard Steenekamp 18 Marcel van der Merwe 19 Sintu Manjezi 20 Nizaam Carr 21 Embrose Papier 22 Clinton Swart 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.