No Duane Vermeulen, Trevor Nyakane as Bulls mix and match for Lions Rainbow Cup showdown
By Ashfak Mohamed 19m ago
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CAPE TOWN – While he won’t be able to call on Springboks Duane Vermeulen and Trevor Nyakane, Bulls coach Jake White will be glad that a number of previously injured players are back for Saturday’s Rainbow Cup SA opener against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kickoff).
Captain Vermeulen was still making his way back from a knee issue, while Nyakane picked up a rib injury recently, with White also stating that the duo have to be given a week off anyway due to SA Rugby protocols for players who attended the recent Springbok alignment camps ahead of the British and Irish Lions series.
But two key figures, wing Stravino Jacobs and flank Elrigh Louw, return to the starting line-up, and their availability is crucial, with the Bulls missing the exciting talents of Gio Aplon and Travis Ismaiel (both injured), while Stedman Gans is now officially with the Blitzboks sevens team for the Tokyo Olympics, along with Kurt-Lee Arendse.
Another welcome returnee is lock Walt Steenkamp, who will play off the bench after a lengthy recovery period from a heart condition that was caused by Covid-19.
White has mixed and match his combinations, with Chris Smith and Embrose Papier at halfback, while Marco Jansen van Vuren will partner Cornal Hendricks in midfield.
Nizaam Carr retains the captaincy and will line up at No 8 in Vermeulen’s absence.
“My thinking with this team is that it is quite an athletic team – a lot of good athletes, a lot of good ball-players in it. I’m hoping that the weather is going to be quite nice and dry… I know it’s a bit rainy in Pretoria today, but I hope the sun comes out tomorrow,” White said during a press conference on Friday.
“It’s a team where, if we play the way we can, we can actually keep the ball alive and attack quite nicely with this group. Gerhard Steenekamp played number eight at school and is a prop now, Johan Grobbelaar is a good athlete, Mornay Smith good athlete, two locks are really good athletes, Nizaam Carr at number eight.
“It’s a nice team to keep the ball alive and play that style of rugby.”
There is also a Bulls debut for new signing James Verity-Amm, who joined from Griquas a few weeks ago, but has also played Super Rugby for the Western Force and Brumbies previously.
“He’s 26 and played around the world. He adds something a little bit different to our backline – not to take away anything from what David Kriel did last year, but we can’t play with David in every single game,” White said about Verity-Amm’s selection.
15 James Verity-Amm 14 Madosh Tambwe 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Stravino Jacobs 10 Chris Smith 9 Embrose Papier 8 Nizaam Carr (captain) 7 Elrigh Louw 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Janko Swanepoel 3 Mornay Smith 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Joe van Zyl 17 Lizo Gqoboka 18 Jacques van Rooyen 19 Walt Steenkamp 20 Arno Botha 21 Zak Burger 22 Morné Steyn 23 David Kriel.