Bulls spoilt for choice ahead of Sharks tie

2013-07-04 00:00

THE Bulls will roll out 14 Springboks when they take to the field against the Sharks in Saturday night’s Super Rugby derby at Loftus Versfeld.

While the Sharks have delayed naming their match squad until today, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke announced his team yesterday and is spoilt for choice in spite of the recent injuries to Springbok loose forwards Arno Botha and Pierre Spies, and the decision of Test lock Juandré Kruger to play his rugby in France.

Veteran centre Wynand Olivier has also left Pretoria, bound for Japan, but he will hardly be missed with Ludeke now able to field current Springboks Jan Serfontein and J.J. Engelbrecht in midfield.

Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn, who played off the bench against the Kings last week, is back, while scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is over his hamstring injury and rejoins the bench.

The only non-Springbok in the starting line-up is lock Grant Hattingh, who has taken over from Kruger in the second row.

“We have had a lot of disruptions since the squad returned from the June break with injuries to the likes of Pierre [Spies], Arno [Botha], Louis [Fouché] and the departures of Wynand [Olivier] and Juandré [Kruger] certainly did not make life easier for us,” Ludeke said yesterday.

“But fortunately we have always backed the depth of our squad and that is bearing fruit.

“We will face a Sharks team that will be desperate, as they need to win to keep their play-off hopes alive, but we have also goals to achieve and to get there we need to keep on winning.”

The Bulls are in second place on the overall log but captain Dewald Potgieter said the players’ focus would be on performing the basics rather than playing for a home semi-final.

“We are not looking at the bigger picture yet. We need to beat a very strong Sharks side packed with class players and lots of experience. We need to back ourselves, execute what has worked for us for far and most important, show up as a team on Saturday.”

The Sharks are in no position to make many changes to their backline (with half-a-dozen outside backs on the injury list), but caretaker coach Grant Bashford still believes his team can take a maximum of 10 points from their remaining games and reach the play-offs.

“We have struggled to get four- try bonus points this season but the way our pack is playing at the ­moment we are dangerous when we are in the strike zone,” said Bashfor

“We’re certainly going to go out and try and get the four tries, and of course if we do that we still need to win too. We need 10 points from these remaining two games [against the Bulls and Kings in Durban] so anything less than that won’t be good enough.”

The match kicks off at 7.15 pm.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip vd Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling

Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Jurgen Visser, 22 Morné Mellet.

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