Marcell Coetzee will lead Bulls in ‘semifinal’ against the Sharks
Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee will lead the Bulls in their important Rainbow Cup SA clash against the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday evening.
Coetzee, who made a successful return to action last weekend after a long injury layoff, takes over the captaincy from injured Duane Vermeulen, who underwent ankle surgery this week.
The Bulls need to beat the Sharks to secure a place in the final next weekend against Italian side Benetton Treviso, who will be representing the northern hemisphere, at the Stadio di Monigo
Benetton Treviso qualified for the final after their last pool match against Welsh side Ospreys was cancelled due to Covid-19.
While the route to the final looks negotiable for the Bulls, it is a bit more complicated for the Sharks, who need to win with a bonus point and deny the Bulls both a losing bonus point and four-try bonus point.
Bulls coach Jake White continues to test combinations and positions with Ruan Nortje shifting to blindside flank to open up space for lock Janko Swanepoel to start in the engine room.
Nortje’s move to the side of the scrum is a result of the injury to Elrigh Louw and the rest of the starting line-up remains unchanged.
“We have approached this match as if it were a semifinal. Nothing less than a win is good enough,” White said.
“The boys need no further motivation and despite a few injuries, come Saturday we will be focused and determined to execute our plan.”
Springbok Nizaam Carr and Junior Springbok Muller Uys have received call-ups to take the places of Swanepoel and Van Staden on the bench respectively.
For the Sharks, head coach Sean Everitt has brought back heavy hitters in captain Lukhanyo Am, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Curwin Bosch and Aphelele Fassi after they missed last weekend’s game.
There is plenty of history between the two sides and while the recent past didn’t quite deliver the result the team wanted, Everitt admitted the Sharks go into this match confident in their ability.
“In the last outing at Loftus, we were in the game at halftime and leading. I thought we dominated for 50 minutes but unfortunately unravelled in the last 20 or so and conceded four soft tries, so we have to look at the game as a whole and put it into perspective,” he said.
After losing twice in this competition, the Sharks hit back last weekend to open up the title race and Everitt expects nothing different when his team host the Pretoria side.
“We’ve bounced back before and we haven’t lost to the Bulls at home, so we’re very keen to turn the tables on them at home,” he said.
Taking a good look at his opponents, he added: “The Bulls have improved as well, they’ve found ways to win, they’re a good team, but the result against the Lions gave us a lot of confidence for this game.”
Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Marcell Coetzee, 7. Ruan Nortje, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 4. Walt Steenkamp, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp
Replacements: 16. Schalk Erasmus, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Trevor Nyakane, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Muller Uys, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Clinton Swart, 23. Gio Aplon, 24. Robert Hunt, 25. Jan Uys, 26. Dawid Kellerman, 27. Richard Kriel
Sharks: 1. Khwezi Mona, 2. Kerron van Vuuren, 3. Khutha Mchunu, 4. JJ van der Mescht, 5. Hyron Andrews, 6. Siya Kolisi, 7. Thembelani Bholi, 8. Phepsi Buthelezi, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 10. Curwin Bosch, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 12. Marius Louw, 13. Lukhanyo Am (C), 14. Anthony Volmink, 15. Aphelele Fassi