Mitchell brings out Bulls' Boks for Stormers
Bulls coach John Mitchell has named a near full-strength squad for his team's penultimate warm-up match ahead of their Super Rugby campaign against the Stormers in Wellington on Saturday.
The Bulls have a bye on the opening weekend of the competition in two weeks time before they host the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on February 24.
Mitchell said even though his team have gone through a rigorous preseason they remain work in progress.
“A number of players who did not start last weekend against the Sharks in Polokwane get a chance to do so this week and will get some valuable game time under the belt‚" Mitchell explained.
“We are still building towards the start of the competition and our performance will be a work in progress towards that.
“We know we are playing against a very capable side‚ but that is the whole purpose of matches like these. There is nothing on offer‚ but so much to learn for both sides."
Mitchell named Springboks RG Snyman‚ who has returned from a stint in Japan‚ and Roelof Smit‚ who came off the bench against the Sharks last weekend‚ in the starting lineup.
The duo represented the Springboks against the British Barbarians in 2016 in a match played in London and are expected to play important roles this season as Mitchell plans to make amends after a disastrous 2017 where the Bulls failed to reach the knockout stages.
The coach also made a number of rotational changes to the side that played the Sharks with the halfback pairing of Andre Warner and Marnitz Boshoff starting and Embrose Papier and Manie Libbok moving to the bench.
Only Divan Rossouw (fullback)‚ the midfield pairing of Burger Odendaal and Johnny Kotze‚ Hanro Liebenberg (loose forward) and lock Ruben van Heerden have been retained from the starting team and a number of players who came off the bench in Polokwane get an opportunity in Wellington.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck also announced a capable squad with a number of Springboks in it.
“The players have worked very hard in the pre-season‚ so this match will give us a good chance to get some competitive game time under our belts. We want to ensure that our players are up to speed‚ so that we can be at our best at the start of what will be another demanding season‚” Fleck said.
Divan Rossouw‚ Andell Loubser‚ Johnny Kotze‚ Burger Odendaal (c)‚ Duncan Matthews‚ Marnitz Boshoff‚ Andre Warner‚ Jano Venter‚ Hanro Liebenberg (v/c)‚ Roelof Smit‚ RG Snyman‚ Ruben van Heerden‚ Conraad van Vuuren‚ Jaco Visagie‚ Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss‚ Lizo Gqoboka‚ Frans van Wyk‚ Lood de Jager‚ Marco van Staden‚ Thembelani Bholi‚ Embrose Papier‚ Manie Libbok‚ JT Jackson‚ Dries Swanepoel‚ Jade Stighling‚ Franco Naude.
Forwards: Jaco Coetzee‚ Jan de Klerk‚ Stephan de Wit‚ Johan du Toit‚ JC Janse van Rensberg‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Wilco Louw‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚ Salmaan Moerat‚ Carlu Sadie‚ Ramone Samuels‚ JD Schickerling‚ Chris van Zyl‚ Kobus van Dyk‚ Cobus Wiese
Backs: Craig Barry‚ Damian de Allende‚ Dewaldt Duvenage‚ Dan Kriel‚ Eduan Keyter‚ Dillyn Leyds‚ Justin Phillips‚ Sergeal Petersen‚ Raymond Rhule‚ Josh Stander‚ EW Viljoen‚ George Whitehead‚ Damian Willemse