The Bulls hand Jantjies his first start
The Bulls have handed Tony Jantjies‚ the younger brother of Springboks star Elton‚ his first start in Friday's Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at Kings Park Stadium in Durban.
The 23-year old Jantjies‚ who has made three consecutive appearances from the bench‚ has been picked by Marais ahead of more experienced Tiaan Schoeman at fly-half.
“I have been telling Tony (Jantjies) for the last three games that I am going to put him on the bench and give him some game time‚" said Marais.
"He has been working very hard behind the scenes over the last two or three months and he has had a tough career with many ups and downs.
"With Tiaan (Schoeman) leaving us and Handre Pollard out with an injury at the moment‚ this is a good time to give him the opportunity to play at this level and be tested against some of the best in the country.
“It is a good opportunity for him to be tested in a big game against the Sharks.
"If he is going to be our fly-half during the Currie Cup then he must be given the exposure now so that he gains experience and confidence.
"I believe in his talent and that he is a very good rugby player who is going to be an asset for the Bulls and South African rugby in future."
Marais has also shown faith in winger Kefentse Mahlo and prop Conraad van Vuuren by handing them their first starts as part of changes to the midfield for the trip to the coast.
“Myself and Kefentse come a long way since the junior sides‚" Marais said of Mahlo.
"He has also been working hard and deserves his opportunity.
"He has never got the opportunity to play at the top level and I have decided to give him a chance because I believe he is one for the future.”
Mahlo will take over from Kriel‚ who has been moved to outside centre‚ while his Springboks team-mate Jan Serfontein will wear the No 12 jersey.
Regular inside centre‚ Burger Odendaal‚ who played at No 12 against the Hurricanes last month‚ moves to the bench.
Van Vuuren‚ who has made three appearances off the bench‚ will start in place of the rested Trevor Nyakane.
In the pack‚ Nick de Jager has been promoted off the bench and will start at No 8 in place of injured Hanro Liebenberg.
Renaldo Bothma and Shaun Adendorff are on the bench as lock and loose forward cover.
Bulls Team: 15. Warrick Gelant‚ 14. Duncan Matthews‚ 13. Jesse Kriel‚ 12. Jan Serfontein‚ 11. Kefentse Mahlo‚ 10. Tony Jantjies‚ 9. Rudy Paige‚ 8. Nic de Jager‚ 7. Jannes Kirsten‚ 6. Ruan Steenkamp‚ 5. RG Snyman‚ 4. Jason Jenkins‚ 3. Conraad van Vuuren‚ 2. Adriaan Strauss‚ 1. Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16. Jaco Visagie‚ 17. Pierre Schoeman‚ 18. John-Roy Jenkinson‚ 19. Renaldo Bothma‚ 20. Shaun Adendorff‚ 21. Andre Warner‚ 22. Burger Odendaal‚ 23. Tian Schoeman