Bulls coach Jake White picks a strong team for Stormers match

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White during the Vodacom Bulls virtual press conference on March 18, 2021 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White during the Vodacom Bulls virtual press conference on March 18, 2021 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bulls coach Jake White has picked a strong team for the Preparation Series match against the Stormers at Loftus on Friday with one eye on the imminent Rainbow Cup next month.

The Pro14 campaign ends in the coming weeks with competition renamed the Rainbow Cup and including the Bulls‚ Lions‚ Sharks and Stormers and the 12 teams from Wales‚ Ireland‚ Scotland and Italy.

“To be fair‚ the Stormers are always a tough side to play against. But bringing some of the senior players is based on the fact that a month from now it will probably be the start of the Rainbow Cup‚” said White when he announced the squad for the Stormers match that included seasoned campaigners like Trevor Nyakane‚ Marco van Staden‚ Cornal Hendriks‚ Johan Grobbelaar‚ Jacques van Rooyen‚ Tim Agaba and Morné Steyn.

“So‚ if we are going to play in a month’s time‚ we must have some sort of rugby for those players. I think again‚ without giving too much away‚ the reality is that I want to see how some of the younger boys are like when playing with a stronger team around them.

“It’s easy to just to pick the youngsters‚ I have seen what they are like as a group and wining junior competitions. But I want to see a player like Werner Gouws playing with two Springboks in the back row. Among the front row‚ I thought Gerhard Steenekamp and Joe van Zyl have played really well.”

White hopes his players will be fully fit and he would have nailed down his combinations by the time the Rainbow Cup starts.

“There is a lot of thought that’s gone into those combinations‚ of course it is the Stormers but when the Rainbow Cup comes we are going to make sure that we have strongest combinations. We also have to know that if we lose Springbok players like Lizo Gqoboka and Trevor Nyakane how is our front row going to look like and have they been able to play together. The Rainbow Cup is imminent and if it is in a month’s time‚ we have to have some sort of rugby and hopefully the players will be ready.”

In his team to face the Stormers‚ Nyakane comes in at prop‚ Ruan Nortje and Marco van Staden return at lock and openside flank respectively while recently recruited scrumhalf Zak Burger will make his debut.

Hendriks and Stedman Gans resume their midfield partnership with Marco Jansen van Vuren shifting to left wing and Marnus Potgieter being named on the extended bench.

Richard Kriel replaces his brother David at fullback with the latter being rested and the bench also boats experience with Johan Grobbelaar‚ Jacques van Rooyen‚ Tim Agaba and Morné Steyn all set to add fresh legs later in the match.

“The North-South derby is always a ferocious affair and this match will be no different. The fact that it is a warm-up is of does not make it easier. We've named a little more experience for this meeting which was always in the plan as we gather momentum to the upcoming season‚” added White.

Bulls: 15. Richard Kriel‚ 14. Madosh Tambwe‚ 13. Stedman Gans‚ 12. Cornal Hendricks‚ 11. Marco Jansen van Vuren‚ 10. Chris Smith‚ 9. Zak Burger‚ 8. Nizaam Carr (c)‚ 7. Werner Gouws‚ 6. Marco van Staden‚ 5. Ruan Nortje‚ 4. Janko Swanepoel‚ 3. Trevor Nyakane‚ 2. Joe van Zyl‚ 1. Gerhard Steenekamp.

Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar‚ 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels‚ 18. Jacques van Rooyen‚ 19. Jan Uys‚ 20. Tim Agaba‚ 21. Keagan Johannes‚ 22. Morné Steyn‚ 23. Diego Appollis‚ 24. Nolan Pienaar‚ 25. Raynard Roets‚ 26. Marnus Potgieter.