The Vodacom Bulls have their big guns in action for the first time today in the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane and their early season rust may give the Toyota Cheetahs an opportunity to follow up their victory against the Stormers in Bloemfontein last week.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is talking a lot about the processes rather than results and is careful when it comes to overloading the players with warm-up games ahead of a tough and long competitive season.
“Super Rugby has become such a long competition that it doesn’t make sense to play more than one or two warm-up games. I just want to make sure all the players get a chance to get one game under their belt before we play our first Super Rugby match,” said Ludeke this week.
“The guys have played a lot of competitive rugby together and know each other well so we shouldn’t experience too many early season blues.”
“We will have to be very wise this year in how we use our players. There is some nice depth in the squad, so we will be able to rotate players where and when needed.”
Fact remains that a good performance will be needed by all and the likes of captain Pierre Spies must show that the time away from the field due to injuries has improved his appetite for rugby again.
It will also be important for the likes of Lionel Mapoe (Lions) and Wynand Olivier (Japan) to get back in the groove at the back.
In all, a lot more will be gained by a solid performance from the Bulls than the other way around.
They cannot leave Polokwane with questions unanswered.
The teams are:
Vodacom Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Mornè Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies (c), Jacques Potgieter, Dewald Potgieter, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Mornè Mellett. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Frik Kirsten, Grant Hattingh, Arno Botha, Jano Vermaak, Ulrich Beyers, Lionel Mapoe, Wynand Olivier.
Toyota Cheetahs: Willie le Roux, Rayno Benjamin, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Elgar Watts, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Frans Viljoen, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (c), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Rossouw de Klerk, Ligtoring Landman, Juan Smith, Sarel Pretorius, Francois Brummer, Hennie Daniller, Hansie Graaff.