Bulls’ bench bolstered by return of beefy Spies and Stegmann

2010-10-14 00:00

THE Blue Bulls hardly needed it, but their squad was yesterday significantly bolstered by the return of muscular Springbok number eight Pierre Spies and flank Deon Stegmann for Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Sharks at King’s Park.

Spies, who has been suffering from a calf strain, and Stegmann, after a lengthy lay-off with a hamstring tear, were yesterday cleared to play in the semi-final. Coach Frans Ludeke has added them to the bench for Saturday. The Bulls will start with the same 15 players who did duty against Griquas last Saturday.

Luduke had the problem of squeezing four Springbok locks into his match 22. Danie Rossouw retains the number eight berth he filled against Griquas, Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield will lock the scrum, and Flip van der Merwe is alongside Pierre Spies on the bench.

The only injury concern for the Bulls is centre Wynand Olivier, who missed training on Tuesday with a groin strain, but he is expected to be fit. Young centre Stefan Watermeyer will travel to Durban as cover.

CJ Stander, who will join the Bulls’ U21 team to meet the Sharks in the semi-final at Loftus tomorrow, and prop Jaco Engels drop off the bench for Spies and Stegmann.

Sharks coach John Plumtree, who will name his team today, said that the Bulls, even without injured front-rowers Gurthrö Steenkamp and Gary Botha, will field a formidable pack.

“Gurthrö has had a great season and has been in excellent form, but I really rate Dean Greyling on the loosehead. Chiliboy Ralepelle [Botha’s hooker replacement] has had a lot of exposure at top level. And, of course, there is plenty of meat behind them in the scrum.”

Plumtree said playing at home is more of an advantage to the Sharks than a disadvantage to the Bulls.

“It means a lot to us, but it might not matter too much to them because of their experience and because they’ve played a lot of big games. I don’t think they will be too concerned, but that’s why it’s important to get a big crowd behind us and then play well and tap into the energy of the supporters.”

The Bulls will also have an advantage in the goalkicking of Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn, but Plumtree is confident the Sharks’ Pat Lambie will match him.

“I’m happy with Pat’s kicking and I’m sure he’s going to kick well on Saturday. He’s improved heaps in the last couple of weeks. We have had [former Bok] Braam van Straaten helping him and he has taken confidence out of that. We also have good kickers in Andre Pretorius and Rory Kockott in the squad.”

Blue Bulls:

15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Jaco Pretorius, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Danie Rossouw, 7. Dewald Potgieter, 6. Derick Kuun, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Bakkies Botha, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling Replacements: 16. Bandise Maku, 17. Rossouw de Klerk, 18. Flip van der Merwe, 19. Pierre Spies, 20. Ruan Snyman, 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22. Deon Stegmann.

Kick-off: 2.30pm. Referee: Marius Jonker.

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