Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane will start at loosehead for the Bulls on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

PRETORIA – It might only be a pre-season friendly, but Springbok lock Lood de Jager wants the Bulls to put their best foot forward in the match against the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

De Jager will lead a star-studded Bulls side that will see Springboks Trevor Nyakane, Handré Pollard, Warrick Gelant and Jesse Kriel get their first taste of action this year.

Nyakane will start in the more familiar position of loosehead prop while Pollard, Gelant and Kriel will start off the bench.

In their 26-26 draw against the Stormers last weekend, the Bulls showed enormous progress in their playing style and cohesiveness compared to the week before in Polokwane against the Sharks, and they will be looking for more of the same tomorrow.

The Bulls are fortunate to have another week of preparation as opposed to most teams, who begin their Super Rugby campaign next weekend.

With this being the Bulls last warm-up match, De Jager has urged his team to stick to what has worked for them so far and also seek to reach the goals they have set for themselves.

“Ja definitely, it is starting to feel like we are going into the business end of the season.

“We just want to stick to our processes this weekend. We set ourselves a target as a team and as a group.

“We are going out with that mindset, and that will hopefully set us in good shape going into the competition,” said De Jager.

And the Bulls internationals have proven to be well ahead of their conditioning programme, which is why coach John Mitchell decided to give them a run.

Mitchell has also selected a match-day squad big enough to have two different teams play in each half, with the hope of maximising the time players will have against a side they play against during the competition.

“It wasn’t originally planned to play the returnees. But because the guys are well ahead of their conditioning targets, now is a good time to get them started.

“Hence the reason to give both teams the opportunity against quality that is in our competition,” Mitchell said.

It will be that cohesiveness of the team and getting his Springboks going that Mitchell will want to see most, but he’ll also be looking to see what his team can do with ball-in-hand.

“I would like to think that there will be good team cohesion. It will probably be more challenging for the second-half group because a lot of guys are having their first game.

“But who knows, everything in a game of rugby is dependent upon whether you got a lot of ball. If you go without a lot of ball, then it becomes more demanding,” added Mitchell.

Bulls Team

Francois Brummer, Andell Loubser, Dries Swanepoel, JT Jackson, Jade Stighling, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Jano Venter, Thembelani Bholi, Marco van Staden, Lood de Jager (captain), Ruben van Heerden, Frans van Wyk, Edgar Marutlulle, Trevor Nyakane.

Bench: Warrick Gelant, Divan Rossouw, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Johnny Kotze, Handré Pollard, Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg, Jason Jenkins, Roelof Smit, RG Snyman, Conraad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman, Jan-Henning Campher, Matthys Basson, Lizo Gqoboka, Shaun Adendorff, Theo Maree.


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