It’s tough at the bottom, say Bulls

2012-09-19 14:10

It has been a tough old time for the Blue Bulls.

Last year they missed out on the Currie Cup playoffs by a whisker.

Shedding a vastly experienced coaching unit and a number of key players was always going to catch up with the men in blue.

They find themselves at the bottom of the Currie Cup ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.

Blue Bulls Company chief executive Barend van Graan said the situation was unacceptable, but there have been a number of factors that have lead to what the team is going through.

“We are doing our best to rectify the position and in doing that, we will take it match by match,” he said.

“I can give a number of excuses but I don’t want to. Players left us at the end of last season and also the coaching staff. It is in our hands, along with the support staff and the players to turn the season around.”

While it seems there are no panic buttons to be pressed, the embattled coach Pine Pienaar made five changes to the side that was slayed by the Griquas in Kimberley last week Saturday.

Jacques Potgieter and Jano Vermaak settled into starting at flank and scrumhalf respectively on returning from the Springboks.

They replace CJ Stander and Warwick Tecklenburg.

The former is on the bench while the latter drops out of the starting 22 completely. Sampie Mastriet earns a first start on the left wing and JJ Engelbrecht moves to outside centre. Morne Mellet replaces the injured Dawie Steyn at prop.

Captain Dewald Potgieter said it was too early to say that the team is in crisis, but said too much rugby played during the year is having an impact on their performances.

“Mental fatigue has set in and I think that has been our biggest problem and there has been a lot of rugby played this year,” he said.

“We know what we need to do and we know what the plan is. Executing it on the weekend is what our problem is. If we can get 22 guys who are mentally and physically fit and able on the field, that will give us the best chance to do that.”

» Teams
Blue Bulls:

15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Ulrich Beyers

Free State Cheetahs:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (captain), 12 Raymond Rhule, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Marcel van der Merwe

Substitutes: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Hendro Scholtz, 20 Sias Ebersohn, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Andries Strauss

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