Human backs his young guns to fire again
PRETORIA - Pote Human gave his young players the biggest pat on the back possible when he kept faith with them for another game week, this time against the Reds in Brisbane.
His decision to stick with the half-back combination of Embrose Papier and Manie Libbok might have been influenced by the 38-13 result over the Highlanders but Human has displayed a level of trust in the duo.
The coach limited his changes to the side that will face the Reds on Saturday to just the midfield, where Burger Odendaal returns to inside centre, Johnny Kotze moves to outside centre and Nafi Tuitavake drops out completely.
It will serve the Bulls well if Human sticks with his youth first policy, not only for the next coming matches but also for the future of the franchise.
Papier and Libbok have a certain TJ Perenara-Beauden Barrett (when he was still a Hurricanes player) feel to them. They read each other’s movements better than, say, Papier and veteran Morne Steyn.
Both are wired to look for spaces in defences and resort to the boot only when there are limited running options, not the other way around, as is often the case with Steyn.
For one, Papier made the first major line-break of the match last weekend against the Highlanders, which, although the Bulls couldn’t cap it off with a try, set an enterprising tone for the rest of the match.
Brad Thorn’s much-improved and courageous Reds side has the kahunas to match anything the Bulls pack does in Brisbane. It will therefore be incumbent on Papier and Libbok’s space exploitation to break some of the shackles, with fullback Warrick Gelant linking them with the back three.
Everything they did against the Highlanders at Loftus last time out exuded the exuberance of youth. Even in the pack - where they were eviscerated in the transfer market last season, losing world-class players such as Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, and Duane Vermeulen - the three newcomers Muller Uys, Ruan Nortje and Ian Groenewald played with hunger and desire.
Perhaps it took Human too long to become a believer, after going four games without a win, but once he saw the youngsters deliver the performance he’d been looking for all season he had no choice but to dispense of some stale veterans.
Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (C), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Muller Uys, Josh Strauss, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Ian Groenewald, Trevor Nyakane (C), Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka.
Corniel Els, Gerhard Steenekamp, Wiehahn Herbst, Ryno Pieterse, Ruan Steenkamp, Ivan van Zyl, Morne Steyn, Divan Rossouw.@sbu_mjikeliso