Bulls defy Bok coach’s plea and name Bok-laden side

2008-09-03 00:00

WHILE the Sharks will rest half their battle-weary Springboks for Saturday’s big Currie Cup game at King’s Park, the Blue Bulls have chosen a full-strength team and have tossed their Test players straight back into the frontline.

The Sharks seem certain to take the field without the three players who played the whole Tri-Nations, powerful loosehead Tendai Mtawarira, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and centre Adrian Jacobs. In addition, Ryan Kankowski and JP Pietersen will be given another week to recover from injuries.

In contrast, coach Frans Ludeke yesterday selected all four Bulls players who saw action at Ellis Park on Saturday — captain Victor Matfield, Pierre Spies, Danie Rossouw and Fourie du Preez — while a fifth, wing Bryan Habana, has also been included.

Habana has been sidelined with a hamstring injury for the past fortnight, and has been doubtful all week, but the Bulls yesterday named him in their starting side.

The Sharks will have four Boks back to boost their side with Francois Steyn, Odwa Ndungane, Ruan Pienaar and Jannie du Plessis, who all played bit parts in the Tri-Nations, certain to be included.

The Bulls selection policy will not go down well with SA Rugby and Peter de Villiers. The Bok coach has asked for the support of the provinces in “managing” their Boks after a long season and ahead of the UK tour at year end, but said he would not prescribe which players should be rested.

After the Durban defeat by the Wallabies, De Villiers singled out Matfield as one of the players desperately needing a break and, indeed, the Bok captain was limping heavily from “a groin injury” as he left Ellis Park.

Matfield has certainly been below his best in recent Tests, but Ludeke has nevertheless recalled him in the second row and handed him the captaincy.

Marius Delport is back at outside centre to partner Wynand Olivier, while Werner Kruger is named at tighthead. Gurthro Steenkamp will be one of five forwards on the bench.

The Sharks will name their team later today, but assistant coach Grant Bashford said that Mtawarira would be rested.

“Beast has played a a lot of rugby and taken a hammering in the Tri-Nations. We will give him time off because we need him fresh for the Cheetahs (in Durban next week).”

Bashford said selection was now a “balancing act to get the best out of everyone.”

Steyn, who missed Saturday’s Test at Ellis Park, will be at outside centre in place of Riaan Swanepoel. Bok wing Ndungane will take over from the lively Chris Jordaan — he and Swanepoel have already returned to their club College Rovers — while Pienaar will be back at scrumhalf.

Hooker Du Plessis, after his bruising Tri-Nations, is expected to start off the bench.

The match kicks off at 5.05pm on Saturday.

Blue Bulls team: Tiger Mangweni; Akona Ndungane, Marius Delport, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Wikus van Heerden, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (captain), Danie Rossouw, Werner Kruger, Derick Kuhn, Jaco Engels.

Reserves: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Rayno Gerber, Juandre Kruger, Gurthro Steenkamp, Heini Adams, Burton Francis, Dewald Potgieter.

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