Injury forces Bulls coach Mitchell to change side's captaincy ahead of trip to the Lions

12 July 2018 - 17:16 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Coach John Mitchell of the Bulls during the Super Rugby match between Vodacom Bulls and Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on April 28, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Coach John Mitchell of the Bulls during the Super Rugby match between Vodacom Bulls and Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on April 28, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Injury has forced Bulls coach John Mitchell to change his side's captaincy ahead of the trip to the Lions in their final Super Rugby match of the season at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Mitchell was forced to name Springboks lock RG Snyman as leader for the short trip across the Jukskei River after his national team-mate and flyhalf Handrè Pollard failed to respond well to treatment on a back injury.

Pollard’s injury is a double blow for Mitchell as he has been standing in for regular captain Burger Odendaal‚ who has been out with the calf injury he suffered while in action during the SuperSport Rugby Challenge last month.

Despite injury disruptions‚ Mitchell has challenged the squad to deliver a convincing performance on the occasion of their last Super Rugby match of the season as they have failed to make it to the play-offs after what has been a disappointing campaign.

“I asked the team for an extraordinary performance to close the season out.

"The other option is to just settle for an easy way to end the season but that is not who we are as a team‚”’ said Mitchell‚ adding that he is positive about the long-term plan to bring success back to Pretoria.

“There are a few things that have changed over the last year or so.

"There is a new process and new systems and there is a new style which comes with mindset and approach.

"I have given the talent in Super Rugby and Currie Cup a chance and I am better off after a year.

Snyman asked the players to end the season well against their rivals who will be looking to consolidate their position among the top teams on the overall standings.

“One can expect the Lions to come out firing as they have everything to play for‚" he said.

"This will be a massive contest‚ a typical South African derby if you like.

"This gives us a proper opportunity to show what we stand for as a team one more time.”

In the other changes to the squad‚ Mitchell named Manie Libbok and Ivan van Zyl as the halfback combination. Winger Travis Ismaiel return to the starting line-up after regaining fitness with Divan Rossouw moving to the bench.

The coach also tinkered with the pack with Jannes Kirsten moving to lock and Thembelani Bholi coming in at flank while Ruben van Heerden has dropped out of the match day squad.

Uncapped hooker Johan Grobbelaar‚ lock Ruan Nortje and flyhalf Boeta Hamman were included on the bench and they are expected to make their tournament and Bulls debut.

Teams

Lions:

15. Andries Coetzee‚ 14. Ruan Combrinck‚ 13. Lionel Mapoe‚ 12. Harold Vorster‚ 11. Courtnall Skosan‚ 10. Elton Jantjies‚ 9. Nic Groom‚ 8. Warren Whiteley‚ 7. Cyle Brink‚ 6. Kwagga Smith‚ 5. Franco Mostert‚ 4. Marvin Orie‚ 3. Ruan Dreyer‚ 2. Malcolm Marx‚ 1. Jacques van Rooyen

Substitutes:

16. Corne Fourie‚ 17. Johannes Jonker‚ 18. Jacobie Adriaanse‚ 19. Lourens Erasmus‚ 20. Marnus Schoeman/Hacjivah Dayimani‚ 21. Ross Cronje‚ 22. Aphiwe Dyantyi‚ 22. Howard Mnisi/Shaun Reynolds

Bulls:

15. Warrick Gelant‚ 14. Travis Ismaiel‚ 13. Jesse Kriel‚ 12. Johnny Kotze‚ 11. Jamba Ulengo‚ 10. Manie Libbok‚ 9. Ivan van Zyl‚ 8. Hanro Liebenberg‚ 7. Thembelani Bholi‚ 6. Marco van Staden‚ 5. RG Snyman‚ 4. Jannes Kirsten‚ 3. Conraad van Vuuren‚ 2. Jaco Visagie‚ 1. Pierre Schoeman

Substitutes:

16. Johan Grobbelaar‚ 17. Matthys Basson‚ 18. Mornay Smit‚ 19. Ruan Nortje‚ 20. Nick de Jager‚ 21. Embrose Papier‚ 22. Boeta Hamman‚ 23. Divan Rossouw

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