Gone, it seems, are the days when in the week after a Bok test, the Blue Bulls should expect to be boosted by a host of returning stars to strengthen their Currie Cup team. While the likes of Western Province and the Sharks have soared even without those Boks – and have this week been bolstered by five or more big names each – the Bulls’ own “Bok boost” looks a little apologetic by comparison.
While the likes of Morne Steyn, Juandre Kruger and Zane Kirchner move back to European clubs this week, only centres Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht have made their way forlornly back to Pretoria, where they’ll slot in as a combination to try and do the impossible; the Blue Bulls need to pick up five log points in Bloemfontein, without conceding any themselves, to sneak into the semi-finals in fourth place at the expense of the Cheetahs.
The Bulls’ other Bok – Flip van der Merwe – is out of action with a knee injury this week. It’s unclear how he sustained the injury whilst being suspended, but they’re a special lot, these Bulls, so anything can really happen.
A loose forward reshuffle sees captain Jono Ross named on the open side this week, with former King Vleis Engelbrecht preferred at number 8.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 David Bulbring, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Francois Venter, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.