|Springbok prop Lizo Gqoboka will make a timely return to the Vodacom Blue Bulls this weekend when they face the Cell C Sharks in their final Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Gqoboka has been released from the Springbok squad for the match, one the home side must win to make the play-offs of the Currie Cup.
Marco van Staden, who like Gqoboka played against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld last weekend, returns to the team as well, while coach Pote Human kept faith with the remainder of the squad that returned from Johannesburg victoriously two weeks ago.
Gqoboka comes in for Dayan van der Westhuizen, who reverts to the bench, where a number of changes were made. Corniel Els makes a first appearance for the squad as back-up hooker, while Ruan Steenkamp is fit again and will play off the bench.
Human also handed a potential debut to Junior Springbok, Vaughen Isaacs, who replaces Marnitz Boshoff as back-up flyhalf.
“We know what we need to do, so our options are very clear cut,” Human said.
“We need to beat the Cell C Sharks by 12 points, with a bonus point and make sure they don’t get a bonus point. The job at hand cannot be clearer than that. So this is a quarterfinal match for us, if you like,” the coach said.
Ivan van Zyl will again lead the team and the scrumhalf indicated that the squad still have some rugby left to play.
“We are pretty determined to still be playing in three weeks’ time, come the final of the Currie Cup. Everyone is on the same page with the same mind-set. We have the quality in the squad to do this, we need to go out and prove that.”
The team is:
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (c), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: Corne Els, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Ruan Steenkamp, Embrose Papier, Vaughen Isaacs, Stedman Gans.
Ivan van Zyl will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when the Pretoria side travels south to meet the Xerox Golden Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, while UP-Tuks flanker, Fred Eksteen, will make his Vodacom Blue Bulls and Currie Cup debut.
Van Zyl will make a first start in the competition after playing off the bench twice so far and take the armband of injured Ruan Steenkamp.
Eksteen played his club rugby for UP Tuks before being named in the Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup wider squad and takes over from Steenkamp at the side of the scrum. The flanker will run out along with Dayan van der Westhuizen and Johan Grobbelaar, who were both elevated into the starting team for Saturday’s clash against the undefeated home side.
Van der Westhuizen replaces injured Simphiwe Matanzima, while Grobbelaar swops places with Jaco Visagie, who reverts to the bench.
Wian Vosloo moves into the starting team as well to replace injured Marco van Staden.
In a fifth change to the pack, Andries Ferreira will start at lock, with Adre Smith moving back to the bench after being named a late starter against Tafel Lager Griquas when Ferreira was ruled out before kick-off.
Coach Pote Human left the backline intact, bar the Van Zyl swop with Embrose Papier, who will play off the bench.
Madot Makobela is the only newcomer on the bench, taking the place of Van der Westhuizen.
Human said although his hand was forced, it should not dampen the enthusiasm to face their Gauteng neighbours.
“The injury bogey did hit us hard and that on a weekend where one would have wanted to play with all your main players fit and ready. That said, the likes of Fred worked hard all season and now gets the chance to show what he can do. I would not have included him in our training squad in the first place if I did not trust his abilities,” Human said.
“We are now playing for pride and each player will have to show why they want to be part of this team in future.”
Van Zyl said the challenge is a huge one, but the team want to prove they belong.
“There are many if and buts when you look at our season, but ultimately the performances did not do justice to the effort of the coaching staff and the hopes of our supporters. We have two more rounds to redeem ourselves and everyone is determined to do just that and finish the season with some dignity and pride restored.”
The team is: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (c), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Fred Eksteen, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen.
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Madot Mabokela, Conraad van Vuuren, Adre Smith, Jean Droste, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Stedman Gans.
Flyhalf Manie Libbok will start at flyhalf for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday when they take on Tafel Lager Griquas in round four of the Currie Cup, sponsored by Direct Axis Financial Services.
Libbok played off the bench last weekend in Nelspruit, where the Vodacom Blue Bulls edged Phakisa Pumas to claim their first win of the competition and coach Pote Human kept faith in those returning victorious from the Mbombela Stadium. Libbok swops jerseys with Marnitz Boshoff, who will finish the game while Stedman Gans is the only new face in the match day squad.
Gans has been fully integrated since his return from the Blitzboks last month and will play off the bench against the Kimberley side, the same team he made his debut against two seasons ago. He comes in for Jade Stighling. Human said it was easy to reward the Nelspruit victors.
“That was a hard-fought win for us over a much respected opponent at a venue where we battled in the past, so it was the right thing to reward the team who claimed that victory. The swop between Marnitz and Manie is purely tactical as we approach this match against Tafel Lager Griquas slightly different,” Human said.
“Also, it is nice to have Stedman back in the mix and I am keen to see him showing us what he is capable of. Jade did nothing wrong, but with Stedman in, we have a bit more flexibility in the back-line,” Human explained.
The coach held the reins in Kimberley before and warned his players to prepare for an onslaught.
“They will come at us hard, no doubt. They will be smarting after their defeat last weekend and probably have the most momentum of all teams in the competition.”
Ruan Steenkamp, who will lead the team into battle, said they are looking forward to play at home again.
“Our last outing at home did not go well, unfortunately, so we are keen to redeem ourselves. We must perform and I believe we can do so if we stick to our plan and approach and take the game to them. If we play at our pace and on our terms, we will be hard to beat.”
The team is:
- Divan Rossouw
- Cornal Hendricks
- Dylan Sage
- Johnny Kotze
- Rosko Specman
- Manie Libbok
- Embrose Papier
- Tim Agaba
- Marco van Staden
- Ruan Steenkamp (c)
- Ruan Nortje
- Andries Ferreira
- Wiehahn Herbst
- Jaco Visagie
- Simphiwe Matanzima
- Johan Grobbelaar
- Dayan van der Westhuizen
- Conraad van Vuuren
- Adri Smit
- Wihan Vosloo
- Andre Warner
- Marnitz Boshoff
- Stedman Gans
Marnitz Boshoff will start at flyhalf for the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Friday when they take on Phakisa Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Round Three of the Currie Cup, sponsored by Direct Axis Financial Services.
The Nelspruit-born player replaces Manie Libbok as pivot as Vodacom Blue Bulls coach, Pote Human, made two changes to the side that lost out to the Toyota Free State Cheetahs last weekend, with Marco van Staden the other change at flank, where he takes over from Roelof Smit.
Ruan Steenkamp will again lead the side after taking over from Burger Odendaal, who pulled out of last weekend’s match shortly before kick-off.
Odendaal pulled out due to a leg injury and his replacement then, Dylan Sage, will wear the number 12 jersey.
Human made a number of changes to his bench as well, with Libbok dropping into an impact-player role this time around. Andre Warner will also get his first run in the competition off the bench, having replaced Ivan van Zyl.
Loose forward Wihan Vosloo is fit again and will play off the bench. Vosloo made his Vodacom Blue Bulls debut in Cape Town three weeks ago, but was injured early in the game and will be keen to add his effort when called upon.
“We are in trouble with no wins after two rounds and so are the Pumas. They were unlucky in both their losses as they were pipped at the end, while we were outplayed in both our defeats and given that the match is on their home turf, they must be favourites,” Human said.
“I know it is very early in the competition, but the reality is that another defeat could be a killer-blow for our chances to win the Currie Cup in 2019. We need to play with the urgency brought about by that reality and make sure we get our campaign back on track.”
Steenkamp said they will have to show they are capable to go all the way.
“It is almost like the slogan for the tournament, it is effort re-loaded for us. We need a strong showing and we need a win. We are going into a venue where the Pumas have beaten us in the past, so they will come at us. We are all playing for the Vodacom Blue Bulls to show that we are the best team in the competition and that starts on Friday.”
The team is:
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Marnitz Boshoff, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Ruan Steenkamp (c), Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Adri Smit, Wihan Vosloo, Andre Warner, Manie Libbok, Jade Stighling.
Wiehahn Herbst will start at prop, and flanker Marco van Staden will play off the bench when the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
Both players will make a first appearance in the Currie Cup, sponsored by Direct Axis Financial Services, for coach Pote Human in round two of the tournament.
Herbst was a late withdrawal and missed the opening match against DHL Western Province last week due to the birth of his child, while Van Staden was part of the Springbok squad preparing for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Australia and has been released for this clash.
Herbst takes over from Conraad van Vuuren and Van Staden takes the place on the bench of Roelof Smit.
Smit will start the match in place of injured Wian Vosloo.
Lock Andries Ferreira will also make a first start for the Vodacom Blue Bulls against a former province of his, replacing Lood de Jager, who has been recalled to the Springbok squad to face the Wallabies.
Human said the team will have the opportunity to not only redeem themselves following last weekend’s defeat to DHL Western Province, but can do so in front of the Loftus faithful.
“We need to be at our best. The Toyota Free State Cheetahs will be well-rested and have some really good players available. They will be very keen to get their season started. We have to start well, keep playing well and finish well in this one. We created some chances last week, but with some of our phases not functioning as it should have, we never really managed to force dominance. That needs to change this weekend,” said Human.
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said the focus will be on themselves, rather than the opponent.
“We spoke about the errors made last weekend and how to make them right. We all agreed on how to do that, so it is now a matter of going out there and execute the type of game we know we can play.”
Kick-off is at 19h15. The referee for the clash is Marius van der Westhuizen.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls team is: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Andries Ferreira, Ruan Nortje, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Marco van Staden, Ivan van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff, Dylan Sage.
Lood de Jager will make a welcome return to competitive rugby on Saturday when the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in Cape Town in the opening weekend of the Currie Cup, sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services.
De Jager last played in February before picking up an injury that ruled him out of action for the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition and his return will boost the chances of coach Pote Human charges in their season’s opener at DHL Newlands.
Human named a squad full of familiar faces following Super Rugby, with flanker Wian Vosloo the only newcomer to the squad.
The 24-year old played for the Cell C Sharks in 2018 and is one of five players making their Currie Cup debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
De Jager, Cornal Hendricks, Rosko Specman and prop Wiehahn Herbst will all play for the team for the first time in the competition.
Jean Droste, who played age group rugby for the Vodacom Blue Bulls before a couple of seasons with the Cell C Sharks, is also back in Pretoria and will play off the bench.
Human said they are expecting a massive match against their Cape Town opponents.
“What a way to start this competition – against Province in Cape Town. It does not come tougher than this,” Human said.
The coach said De Jager’s return to action will be a good boost for their chances.
“Lood played very well before his injury and worked really hard to get back onto the field. I am sure he is ready to give it a good go. We have some form players in the team at the moment, but playing at Newlands against such a formidable team is always a tough start,” Human said.
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said they will need to make every opportunity count.
“With only one round in this year’s competition, we need to take every chance that comes our way. I expect this year’s Currie Cup to be very, very competitive and every result will be crucial. We need to start well and keep up the pressure in order to have a chance this weekend,” Odendaal said.
The team is: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager, Ruan Nortjie, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Roelof Smit, Ivan van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff, Dylan Sage.
Vodacom Blue Bulls coach, Pote Human, named Burger Odendaal as captain for the 2019 Currie Cup season and included five Springboks in his squad for the season. Cornal Hendricks, who made a return to rugby in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament, will again play in the country’s premier domestic competition for the first time since 2015, while Human can also call on Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff and Roelof Smit, who all donned the green and gold.
A number of former Blitzboks will also add to their effort, including Rosko Specman, Dylan Sage and Tim Agaba, while Stedman Gans has also joined up with the squad.
Former Cell C Sharks flanker, Wihan Vosloo, also joined from Durban, while lock Andries Ferreira returns to his old stomping ground at Loftus Versfeld.
Wiehahn Herbst will also debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, following a long career with the Cell C Sharks and Ulster.
The Currie Cup training squad is:
- Fullbacks: Divan Rossouw, Earll Douwrie
- Wings: Cornal Hendricks, Rosko Specman, Jade Stighling.
- Centres: Burger Odendaal, Dylan Sage, Johnny Kotze, Stedman Gans.
- Flyhalves: Manie Libbok, Marnitz Boshoff
- Scrumhalves: Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner.
- Loose forwards: Tim Agaba, Fred Eksteen, Wihan Vosloo, Jaco Bezuidenhout, Ruan Steenkamp, Eduan Lubbe, Roelof Smit.
- Locks: Jean Drotste, Andries Ferreira, Ruan Nortje, Adri Smith, Marius Verwey
- Props: Wiehahn Herbst, Conraad van Vuuren, Madot Mabokela, Simphiwe Matanzima, Matthys Basson, Dayan van der Westhuizen.
- Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Johan Grobbelaar
Blitzbok JC Pretorius has been selected to start at flank for the Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs U21 at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday, 29 June 2019.
The former HTS Middleburg scholar captained the Vodacom Blue Bulls U19 in 2018 and made his Blitzbok debut at the Sydney leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in February. He has since earned 27 caps and scored 11 tries for the South African national sevens team.
Pretorius saw game time off the bench last week against the DHL Western Province U21 and head coach, Nollis Marais, opted to hand him his first start of their 2019 SA Rugby U21 Championship campaign.
Marais made several other changes to the matchday squad as Cameron Hufke and Gershwin Mouton will start at wing in the place of Jay-Cee Nel and Damian Bonaparte.
Ewart Potgieter and Kabelo Mokoena will warm the bench in the spots left vacant by Pretorius and Mouton.
Kick-off is 13:00 and the public are encouraged to support the team in what will undoubtedly be a bruising affair in Bloemfontein.
Vodacom Blue Bulls U21: 15. Andrew Kota, 14. Gershwin Mouton, 13. Diego Appollis, 12. Wian van Niekerk, 11. Cameron Hufke, 10. Fiela Boshoff, 9. Lian du Toit, 8. Muller Uys, 7. Hanru Sirgel, 6. JC Pretorius, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Ryno Pieterse, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Werner Fourie, 1. Dewald Maritz.
Replacements: 16. Wiehan Bezuidenhout, 17. Joe van Zyl, 18. Carl Els, 19. Ewart Potgieter, 20. Johan Mulder, 21. Lionel April, 22. Kabelo Mokoena, 23. Cabous Eloff.
Vodacom Bulls midfielder, Jesse Kriel, will make a welcome return to the starting team to face the Hurricanes in the Vodacom Super Rugby quarterfinals clash in Wellington on Saturday.
Kriel returns from an ankle injury sustained late in April and will run out for his 70th cap in the Vodacom Bulls jersey in the one of two changes in the starting team that outplayed the Emirates Lions last weekend.
Kriel comes in for the injured Burger Odendaal, with Johnny Kotze moving to the inside centre berth and Kriel slotting back in at 13.
Up front, Jason Jenkins also returns to partner RG Snyman at lock after missing the Lions clash as well due to injury.
He takes over from Jannes Kirsten, who reverts to the bench.
Vodacom Bulls coach, Pote Human, said the return of Kriel and Jenkins will be a boost.
“Jesse’s experience and ability speaks for itself and to have him back for this match is good news for us. Jason has also been playing really well lately and he forms a very competitive combination with RG, so it is a plus having that.”
Human said the Vodacom Bulls don’t want to leave Wellington without a win.
“We prepared to play in the final. We are now three matches away from that, but realise that we cannot look past this one against a very dangerous Hurricanes team. They play at home, have won this competition before and have so many strike players that will keep us busy. We have found some good momentum in the last couple of weeks though and will back ourselves on Saturday.”
Vodacom Bulls captain, Handré Pollard, said the improvement the team made this year was good reward.
“We have achieved one goal and now set our target on getting into the semifinals. We have learnt good lessons this year as a group, with one of them about our consistency. We need to keep the belief, the focus and the drive.”
Pollard said they have nothing to lose.
“We already improved on last season, but now that we are here, realise how close we are to make this even more meaningful, not only for ourselves as a squad, but for the support back home.”
The team (with Super caps and points) is:
- Warrick Gelant (45, 70)
- Cornal Hendricks (40, 70)
- Jesse Kriel (69, 95)
- Johnny Kotze (46, 45)
- Rosko Specman (12, 25)
- Handré Pollard (c; 59, 625)
- Andre Warner (19, 15)
- Duane Vermeulen (122, 50)
- Hanro Liebenberg (43, 35)
- Marco van Staden (25, 20)
- RG Snyman (48, 10)
- Jason Jenkins (51, 40)
- Trevor Nyakane (106, 15)
- Jaco Visagie (46, 10)
- Lizo Gqoboka (52, 15)
- Johan Grobbelaar (5, 0)
- Simphiwe Matanzima (16, 5)
- Wiehahn Herbst (49, 0)
- Jannes Kirsten (32, 10)
- Ruan Steenkamp (20, 0)
- Ivan van Zyl (30, 5)
- Manie Libbok (17, 55)
- Divan Rossouw (26, 20)
Wiehahn Herbst will play in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match when he takes to the field, with the first 40 of those in the colours of the Cell C Sharks.
Duane Vermeulen, Rosko Specman and Warrick Gelant will return to the Vodacom Bulls starting team to face the Emirates Lions in their final Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The backline duo picked up injuries during the Vodacom Bulls tour to Australasia, while Vermeulen missed the New Zealand leg of the tour due to the World Cup rest protocols.
Coach Pote Human also had to replace injured lock Jason Jenkins and hooker, Schalk Brits, in a side that show six changes to the one that started against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Gelant takes over from Divan Rossouw (bench) and Specman’s return is at the expense of Dylan Sage, with Johnny Kotze moving from wing to outside centre.
Andre Warner comes in at scrumhalf in place of Embrose Papier in a rotational move.
In the pack, Vermeulen’s return resulted in Marco van Staden moving back to six, with Ruan Steenkamp benched and Jannes Kirsten slotting in for Jenkins, with Eli Snyman coming onto the bench in his place.
Johan Grobbelaar will be back-up hooker to Jaco Visagie, who took over from Schalk Brits in Dunedin.
Vodacom Bulls coach, Pote Human, said the return of injured players will freshen up the squad.
“We are at a late stage in the competition and anyone coming back into the fray does so with new energy and fresh legs and that is always good. The nice thing about this weekend is that we have our fate in our own hands and do not have to worry about results elsewhere. We can go out and apply our minds to the job at hand.”
For Handré Pollard, the return to Loftus Versfeld will add something to the team’s effort.
“We are going to need every Vodacom Bulls supporter this weekend and I hope they come out in numbers to support us. We had some mixed performances at home this year, but the last couple of results show that we are getting into a good rhythm. It will be fantastic if we can qualify for the knock-outs for the first time in six years and do so in front of our own fans. Before that though, we will need an exceptional effort on Saturday.”
The team (with Super caps and points) is:
- Warrick Gelant (44, 70)
- Cornal Hendricks (39, 65)
- Johnny Kotze (45, 45)
- Burger Odendaal (55, 30)
- Rosko Specman (11, 25)
- Handré Pollard (c; 58, 607)
- Andre Warner (18, 15)
- Duane Vermeulen (121, 50)
- Hanro Liebenberg (42, 30)
- Marco van Staden (24, 15)
- RG Snyman (42, 10)
- Jannes Kirsten (31, 10)
- Trevor Nyakane (106, 15)
- Jaco Visagie (45, 10)
- Lizo Gqoboka (52, 15)
- Johan Grobbelaar (4, 0)
- Simphiwe Matanzima (15, 5)
- Wiehahn Herbst (48, 0)
- Eli Snyman (6, 0)
- Ruan Steenkamp (19, 0)
- Ivan van Zyl (29, 5)
- Manie Libbok (16, 50)
- Divan Rossouw (25, 20)