World Cup-winning Springbok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp will make a first Currie Cup start of the season for the Blue Bulls in their crucial encounter with Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that Steenkamp is back in action after a reconditioning spell on the sidelines, following his Tri-Nations commitments with the Springboks, and is eager to make an impact in the competition.
“It’s not a nice feeling to be on the sidelines, while your teammates are doing the hard yards on the field,” Steenkamp said.
“The Blue Bulls are keen to defend the Currie Cup and I want to put my body on the line with them, so I am keen to give it a go against WP.”
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will only be able to recall the rest of his Tri-Nations Boks next week, but has included flank Dewald Potgieter on the bench for this crucial match.
Potgieter has recovered from injury and will take the place of Okkie Kruger – who moves up into the starting team in place of namesake Juandré Kruger, who fractured his hand against the Leopards last week.
Chiliboy Ralepelle also swaps places with Gary Botha at hooker, with flank Derick Kuün again taking over the captaincy.
Looking ahead to Saturday, Ludeke said they needed to dominate the contact situations.
“Our defences will be tested by this very good WP team, but the trick for us will be to dominate the contact area,” he said.
“This will be a huge game for us, as all these traditional north-south clashes are,” added the Bulls boss.
“A win could move us into second, but a defeat could threaten our play-off chances, so we need a positive result.”
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 François Hougaard, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 Okkie Kruger, 6 Derick Kuün (captain), 5 Fudge Mabeta, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Dewald Potgieter, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Stephan Dippenaar