Currie Cup

Who are the new faces in the Bulls squad for the Lions clash?

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Jay-Cee Nel (Gallo Images)
Jay-Cee Nel (Gallo Images)
  • The Bulls' extended match squad for the Currie Cup match against the Lions has an interesting byproduct - a further glimpse into which rookies Jake White have in his plans.
  • While men like Elrigh Louw and Jan-Hendrik Wessels have already established themselves, the triumphant Under-21 vintage has further raised the intrigue over the juniors thought to be ready for senior play.
  • 26-year-old Jan Uys, one of White's more obscure buys, is also belatedly in the mix.


One of the more interesting things to emerge from the Bulls' extended match squad for Wednesday's Currie Cup clash with the Lions at Loftus was the indication it gave of who the fringe players and juniors are that still figure in Jake White's plans.

The Bulls' director of rugby had instigated a significant clean-out and revamp of his senior ranks during local rugby's Covid-enforced hiatus and has, in general, used most of his current crop at some stage of the domestic campaign.

However, with the union's Under-21s having walked away with the provincial championship late last year, there was much intrigue over whom of that vintage will make the cut for senior rugby.

There's some clarity on that now.

Here are the new faces that emerged in the Bulls extended and subsequent match group this week.

STRAVINO JACOBS

There was a fairly concrete indication from White before the season-opening Super Fan Saturday jamboree that the 20-year-old winger, dubbed "Rocket Man" at Paarl Gimnasium, was rated highly.

"I've got this young guy, Stravino, that's come in and he's an unbelievable player," the Bulls mentor said at the time.

"He's just such a rough diamond and I want to see what he's like when he plays in a senior combination."

Jacobs had been expected to be a hit for Junior Springboks before Covid struck last year and instead settled in to become one of the leading lights on show in the Under-21 tournament.

He scored two tries in the final and finished with seven overall.

JAY-CEE NEL

Missing out on Baby Bok selection in 2019's World Championship seemed to spur on the former Oakdale pupil.

Powerful, quick and nimble, Nel fits the profile of White's idea of a modern back - one that isn't necessarily bound by one position.

He's played wing at senior level (in last year's SuperSport Challenge), but has turned his attention to playing in midfield. 

Nel started the year at outside centre and actually came quite close to gaining Super Rugby cap, before settling in at No 12 for the triumphant Under-21 campaign.

JAN UYS

Given the massive impact made by men like Jason Jenkins, Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi, it's quite easy to forget that one of White's more obscure buys was the 26-year-old lock.

Uys does have the pedigree of having played at age-group level for Western Province and winning the Varsity Cup with Ikeys, but an ill-fated move to Eastern Province prompted him to go abroad, where he found a home at French club CA Brive.

There he gained a reputation for being one of the tougher second rowers in the country, consistently putting in massive hits on defence and proving a real presence in the collisions.

Uys' recruitment smacks of being one of White's proverbial Moneyball buys - not much is really known about him locally - but given the Bulls' success in the player market these past few months, one wouldn't bet against him looking right at home rather quickly.

JANKO SWANEPOEL

A rangy second rower, Swanepoel made the trek to Loftus from Stellenberg Hoër - an underrated and accomplished rugby institution - and made an immediate impression, being crowned as the union's Under-19 forward of the year in his first year.

The 1.99m, 105kg exponent was "admittedly unlucky" to miss out on Junior Springbok selection last year before the campaign-ending injury to Francke Horn (now at the Lions) gave him a backdoor entry into the tournament.

He's continued to be a bedrock of the Bulls' juniors pack and has deservedly been given an opportunity to taste some action at senior level.

The immense depth in the lock position as well as Swanepoel's emergence is one of the reasons why veteran Juandre Kruger left last month by mutual consent.

MARNUS POTGIETER

The former Affies star announced himself to a wider audience last year with a brilliant hat-trick in an Under-20 international against a feisty and accomplished Argentina.

He showed some true predatory finishing skills and then went on to become a key member of the squad at the Junior Championships, forming an imposing midfield combination with Stormers rookie Rikus Pretorius.

Potgieter is a sturdy ball-carrier with a prominent turn of pace and would remind one of a Loftus legend in Wynand Olivier had White not stated previously that his sprinting ability is, ideally speaking, more suited on the wing.

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