Wildebeest coaches Charles Louw and Steve Atherton have chosen a strong line-up to face the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup curtain-raiser to the Sharks-Bulls Super 14 match in Pretoria on Saturday.
Both teams suffered fairly upset losses, the Bulls to South Western Districts, and the Wildebeest to the Pumas in the opening week’s action over the past weekend, and both will be looking to reverse matters.
The coaches have a mixture of talented youngsters as well as some fairly experienced campaigners with Super 14 action behind them by way of Andries Strauss, Henno Mentz, Steven Sykes, Jody Jenneker, Kees Lensing and Skipper Badenhorst, but as both teams found to their chagrin last week, if you want the result, you have to outscore your opposition.
With captain Alistair Hargreaves is his South African Under 19 World Champs team-mate Nikolai Blignaut, with talented youngsters Jacques Potgieter and Justin Downey making up a very mobile the loose forward trio. Sharks lock Johan Ackermann will be playing his last match before retiring for good, and this means Steven Sykes gets more game time ahead of his predicted move back into the Sharks squad following a period out of rugby through injury.
The backline also has a touch of class about it, but once again, it is what happens on the day, and every opportunity must be turned into points if the Wildebeest intend returning to Durban victorious.
Meanwhile, the 33 year old ex-Bok Richard Bands is on the Blue Bulls bench for the Vodacom Cup clash between the Bulls and the Natal Wildebeeste. Bands has hardly featured over past few seasons due to calf and knee injuries, but is attempting to make a final comeback to compete at the highest level.
Bands is joined on the bench by the SA under 19 hooker Henri Bantjes, who replaces Brett Sharman, but the rest of the team who lost to the SWD Eagles remains intact. Bulls coach Nico Serforntein has made one positional change – props Sangoni Mxoli (the ex-Shark) and Dean Greyling swap the number 1 and 3 jumpers, with “Moxi” starting at his preferred loosehead position, after playing tighthead against the Eagles last week.
The match starts at 16:30 and is a curtain-raiser to the Super 14 clash between the Bulls and Sharks.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Tiger Mangweni; Luvuyo Mhlobiso, Stephan Dippenaar, Stefan Watermeyer, Rocco Jansen; Francois Brummer, Francois Hougaard; Okkie Kruger, Pieter Meyer (Capt), Hilton Lobberts, Fudge Mabeta, Hendrik Roodt, Sangoni Mxoli, Bandise Maku, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Henri Bantjes, Richard Bands, Juandré Kruger, Carel Hoffman, Ruan Snyman, Ruan Boshoff, Johan Jackson.
Natal Wildebeeste: Danie Dames, Dumisani Matyeshana, Andries Strauss, Riaan Swanepoel, Henno Mentz, Tiaan Marx, Charl McLeod, Jacques Potgieter, Nikolai Blignaut, Justin Downey, Steven Sykes, Alistair Hargreaves (Capt), Robbie Harris, Jody Jenneker, Kees Lensing, Replacements: Skipper Badenhorst, Pierre Bouwer, Nolan Clarke, Skoliwe Ndlovu, Shaun Pammenter, Neil de Bruin, Lwazi MvovoTweet