Key players return for Pumas

Brian Shabangu (Gallo)
Brian Shabangu (Gallo)

Cape Town - Flank Brian Shabangu and outside centre Hennie Skorbinski return to the Pumas starting line-up as the Mpumalanga-based side seeks to turn their Currie Cup campaign around against the Blue Bulls at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday night.

Shabangu will don the No. 6 jersey for the first time in more than a month after recovering from a rib injury. He replaces Marnus Schoeman, who drops out of the playing squad.

"Marnus is being given a rest this week to get back some confidence. But we are really happy to have Brian back as he was in good form before his injury and brings a lot of experience, energy and physicality to his position,” said Pumas coach MJ Mentz.  

Skorbinski, who has also been in good form, has recovered from a hamstring strain to take up his usual starting berth in place of Tyler Fisher. Fisher is serving a one match ban for a red card he picked up when filling in at outside centre against Boland last Friday.

Marlou van Niekerk has been favoured at inside centre ahead of the benched Leighton van Wyk, while Lambert Groenewald comes in at right flank for Nardus van der Walt, who is out for the rest of the season with a ruptured ACL. Jannie Stander switches from left lock to right lock, with Wiehan Hay partnering him in the second row.

The Pumas have suffered four losses in a row and currently sit in eighth place on the Currie Cup log with five bonus points, ahead of the EP Kings. 

"The guys are really hungry for a win. We’ve worked extremely hard and owe it to ourselves and our supporters," Mentz said.

"The Bulls are always wary of us at Mbombela Stadium because we’ve beaten them here several times. It’s going to be a hard and physical task but every time we play the Bulls it automatically acts as motivation to up our game."  

The match at Mbombela Stadium kicks off at 19:10. 

Teams:

Pumas 

15 Devon Williams, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Hennie Skorbinski, 12 Marlou van Niekerk, 11 JP Lewis, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Emile Temperman, 8 Renaldo Bothma (c), 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Jannie Syander, 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Frank Herne, 1 De Jay Terblanche

Substitutes: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Louis Albertse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Leighton van Wyk, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell

Blue Bulls

15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.

Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Irné Herbst, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Divan Rossouw

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