The return of lock Jacques du Plessis from injury and Ruwellyn Isbell from international sevens duty will bolster the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-19 team ahead of their Absa Under-19 Provincial Championship semifinal against KwaZulu/Natal on Saturday.
Du Plessis has scored five tries and Isbell four during the regular season and their attacking abilities will be needed against the visitors, who beat the young Blue Bulls team 37-36 at this venue two weeks ago, courtesy of a drop goal very late in the match.
Back then KZN scored three quick tries and forced the Blue Bulls into catch-up rugby, but the men in blue did much better last weekend, when they closed out their league fixtures with a 45-14 win over the Toyota Free State in Bloemfontein.
Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-19 Head Coach Paul Anthony made five changes to the side that travelled to Bloemfontein.
Isbell and Du Plessis replace Vian Riekert and Philip du Preez respectively, while Ruan Steenkamp is fit again and will lead the side from No 8.
Theunis Reynolds and Justin Forwood are the other changes. Reynolds replaces Hamish Herd at hooker and Forwood swops places with Jan Enslin, who moves down to the bench. Neethling Fouchè is also bracketed on the bench and the prop will play should he be declared fit from a knee injury.
Jade Stighling is also named on the bench after the regular outside centre has recovered from a knee injury that saw him miss the last three matches.
The team to play KZN at 15h00 is: Jacques Rossouw, Kefentse Mahlo, Dean Moolman, Burger Odendaal (v/c), Ruwellyn Isbell, Francois Tredoux, Carlo Engelbrecht, Ruan Steenkamp ©, Christiaan de Bruin, Roelof Smit, Dennis Visser, Jacques du Plessis, Andrew Beerwinkel, Theunis Reynolds, Justin Forwood. REPLACEMENTS: Jacques Taylor, Jan Enslin, Irnè Herbst, Jannes Kirsten, Juan Smit, Jade Stighling, Clyde Davids, Theodore Ferreira/Neethling Fouchè.
•The Blue Bulls played KZN twice in 2012. In their first encounter in Durban on August 18th, the Blue Bulls won 22-21, while the victors won 37-36 in their second meeting, at Loftus Versfeld on October 5th.
•Jacques Rossouw (100 points) is the leading points’ scorer in the side. Francois Tredoux (41) is second.
•Kefentse Mahlo and Jacques du Plessis are the leading try scorers with five tries each.
•The Blue Bulls side had won nine of their 12 matches in league play, scored 446 points and conceded 226 for a match average of 37-18.
•They have scored 61 tries, the most of all teams in the competition and conceded 27. Only Western Province (26) conceded less.