Often maligned Nic de Jager entrusted with the Bulls armband
The winds of change have swept through their coaching corridors and now the playing personnel at the Blue Bulls have felt gusts‚ admittedly of a more benign nature‚ ahead of (Friday's) tomorrow's Currie Cup clash against the Pumas.
The often maligned No8 Nic de Jager‚ who delivered one of his more forceful displays last weekend when the Bulls lost to the Cheetahs at Loftus‚ has been entrusted with the captaincy armband after last week's skipper Burger Odendaal was ruled out through injury.
De Jager was equally conspicuous with ball and in defence in an eventual lost cause against the Cheetahs.
It perhaps helped sway John Mitchell‚ who have now also picked up the reins as Currie Cup coach‚ that he should be the man to lead the team out of the tunnel in Nelspruit.
Although the loss of Odendaal is considerable‚ the Blue Bulls will have prop Lizo Gqoboka back from time spent in the Bok camp‚ while in the backrow flanks Boom Prinsloo and Jannes Kirsten are in the starting team after being restored to full fitness.
They replace the injured Shaun Adendorff and Abongile Nonkontwana. The latter moves to lock in place of injured Irné Herbst.
Among the backs centre JT Jackson is now in the starting team‚ while scrumhalf Andre Warner starts ahead of Piet van Zyl.
Marnitz Boshoff‚ who joined the Blue Bulls from Connacht is on the bench as are Johnny Kotze and Edgar Marutlule. Bok flyhalf Handre Pollard is still on the mend and wasn't included.
“We have started a process to take responsibility and ownership of performances and to take the Blue Bulls back to respected levels of competitiveness‚” Mitchell stressed.
“We have a long way to go‚ but there will be no excuses. Hard work will be one of the main aspects behind this drive‚ but after three losses‚ we will also have to find the desire to win again‚” Mitchell said.
The Blue Bulls team to play the Pumas is:
Warrick Gelant; Jamba Ulengo‚ Dries Swanepoel‚ JT Jackson‚ Kefentse Mahlo; Tony Jantjies‚ Andre Warner; Nic de Jager (captain)‚ Jannes Kirsten‚ Boom Prinsloo; Ruben van Heerden‚ Abongile Nonkontwana; Conraad van Vuuren‚ Jan-Henning Campher‚ Lizo Gqoboka.
Substitutes: Edgar Marutllule‚ Dayan van der Westhuizen‚ Clyde Davids‚ Jano Venter; Piet van Zyl‚ Marnitz Boshoff‚ Johnny Kotze.