Despite losing a whole raft of players to the national cause, the Blue Bulls look set to mount a credible challenge in this year’s ABSA Currie Cup, having named an impressive-looking enlarged training squad. We’re still waiting for the Sharks to come in from the surf and even start thinking about who’s going to play Currie Cup rugby for us.
The omission of Zane Kirchner and Akona Ndungane from the Bok group means that the Bulls have plenty experience in the back three, with the likes of Tiger Mangweni, John Mametsa and Gerhardt van den Heever providing further options. They look a little thin at inside centre, but still have Jaco Pretorius, Marius Delport and the evergreen Wayne Julies to call on in the midfield. Again, age-group stars such as Stefan Watermeyer, Stephan Dippenaar and Braam Gerber will provide cover.
Heini Adams and Burton Francis will need to mature quickly as a halfback pairing, but both are talented players and should come through fine. Francois Hougaardt and Francois Brümmer need no introduction either, having come up through the ranks.
Amongst the forwards, they look a little thin at hooker (as always) but have a good set of first-choice props in Jaco Engels and Werner Kruger. I see old Mox Mxoli has even cracked the nod! Wilhelm Steenkamp will partner new signing Flippie van der Merwe in the second row, while Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann will no doubt partner the old warhorse Pedrie Wannenburg in the loose trio.
It’s pretty amazing that they can assemble such an impressive training squad despite having so many players out. As much as I hate to admit it, these Bullies are going to be hard to stop this year.
Bulls training squad:
Fullbacks: Zane Kirchner, Tiger Mangweni, TC Losper
Wings: Akona Ndungane, Gerhard van den Heever, John Mametsa, Sampie Mastriet, Clayton Blommetjies
Centres: Jaco Pretorius, Marius Delport, Wayne Julies, Stefan Watermeyer, Stephan Dippenaar, Braam Gerber, Johan Jackson, Luvuyo Matsu
Flyhalves: Burton Francis, Francois Brümmer, Ruan Boshoff
Scrumhalves: Heini Adams, Francois Hougaard, JP Joubert, Ruan Snyman
Loose forwards: Pedrie Wannenburg, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Jacques Burger, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Dries van Schalkwyk, Okkie Kruger, Pieter Meyer
Locks: Wilhelm Steenkamp, Fudge Mabeta, Flippie van der Merwe, Bosman Grobler
Props: Werner Kruger, Jaco Engels, Dean Greyling, Frik Kirsten, Corné Fourie, Ruan Vermeulen, Mox Mxoli
Hookers: Derick Kuün, Bandise Maku, Henri Bantjes