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Bulls throw highly-rated Maxwane into the Lions den

By Mahlatse Mphahlele | 2017-05-19 14:07:52.0

Aaron Smith of the Highlanders  and Jannes Kirsten of the Bulls during the Super Rugby match between Vodacom Bulls and Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on May 13, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)

Bulls coach Nollis Marais will unleash highly-rated 21-year-old winger Sibahle Maxwane in their Super Rugby clash against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

Maxwane is part of the four backline changes that Marais has made for the short trip to Johannesburg where they will be looking to apply the brakes on Lions’ five-match winning streak.

Maxwane has replaced injured Jamba Ulengo‚ while Jan Serfontein and Francois Brummer will earn starts and Jesse Kriel will play at fullback.

 Kriel comes in for Warrick Gelant‚ who moves to the bench to take over from Serfontein‚ who moves into Kriel’s place at centre‚ while Brummer has taken over from Tian Schoeman.

 In the only change in the pack‚ Lood de Jager moves from the bench into the engine room in place of suspended RG Snyman and uncapped Abongile Nonkontwana has been named on the bench‚ with the former Bulls under-21 captain taking over the vacancy left by De Jager.

 “Unfortunately‚ Jamba’s knee is not right and it will be a risk to play him this weekend‚” Marais said.

“I had a chat with him and the doctor and we decided to give him time off. He has been playing week in and week out and unfortunately we have to rest him this weekend.

“Adriaan Strauss is still not training and I have decided to keep him out for another week‚ and I told Tiaan Schoeman last week that he was not going to play because Brummer was fit.”

The Bulls tackle the Lions with an inexperienced team. Marais‚ though‚ said his lineup have the opportunity to gain experience from the outing against the best South African team in the competition at the moment.

“We had three debutants last weekend and this weekend two more new faces will play for the Bulls for the first time in what is already a fairly young team‚” Marais said.

 “I have no doubt in their abilities‚ as I have always believed that age should not impact on selection. Rabs (Maxwane) showed great form and potential for Tuks and was named in the Varsity Cup Dream Team‚ so that form was widely acknowledged.

“He continued with that in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge for the Blue Bulls where he scored a hat-trick in one of the matches‚ so I am excited to see him perform‚” Marais said of the former Border Craven Week‚ Western Province and SA Rugby Sevens Academy player.

 “Abongile (Nonkontwana) came through the ranks and his breakthrough into Super Rugby always was a matter of when rather than if. He will also perform well.”


Saturday’s Super fixtures:

Hurricanes v Cheetahs‚ Westpac Stadium‚ 9.35am

Force v Highlanders‚ nib Stadium‚ 11.45am

Sunwolves v Sharks‚ Singapore National Stadium‚ 1.55pm

Lions v Bulls‚ Ellis Park‚ 5.15pm

Kings v Brumbies‚ Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium‚ 7.30pm

- TMG Digital/TMG Sport