Springbok scrumhalf Piet van Zyl’s failure to produce accurate kicks from the base has seen him left out of the Bulls’ match-day 23 for their Vodacom SuperRugby match against the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Van Zyl’s service was also not as clean as Frans Ludeke would have liked, but it was the sight of him kicking up-and-unders when the Bulls were trying to exit their own half against the Hurricanes last weekend, with the prodigious boot of Handre Pollard largely left unused, that has caused the Bulls coach to temporarily call time on the 25-year-old’s participation in the side.
“It was poor execution on those kicks from just outside our 22, because the opposition will just carry the ball back then, it gives them a crucial opportunity to get back into our territory. The kicks were definitely too short,” Ludeke said.
Van Zyl’s demise has led to a promotion to the starting line-up for Rudi Paige, who is often sharp on attack and generally provides crisp service for his backs.
Left wing Francois Hougaard is going to provide scrumhalf cover and the only other changes to the team that lost to the Hurricanes see Marcel van der Merwe, Tian Schoeman, Travis Ismaiel and Jurgen Visser coming on to the bench.
Prop Van der Merwe is being eased back into action after a knee injury, and he and Dean Greyling are obviously going to have a key role to play in the second half if the Bulls are to maintain a solid scrum against a Sharks pack that scrummed the highly-rated Lions to pieces last weekend.
“Marcel and Dean will be used as impact players in the second half, and we’ve obviously been concentrating on the scrums. It’s about endurance, staying there and finishing the job, and then clearing the base well.
“The Sharks have huge strength at the scrum and success always comes from your forwards giving you that sort of base,” Ludeke said at the Bulls team announcement at Loftus Versfeld on Thursday.
Ismaiel has been preferred to fit-again veteran Akona Ndungane because the 21-year-old was more involved in the Bulls’ warm-up program.
Reserve flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter was withdrawn on Thursday morning due to a thigh strain, allowing the uncapped Schoeman to come on to the bench, while outside centre JJ Engelbrecht is going to have to pass a fitness test on Friday. Ludeke said fullback Jesse Kriel would shift to 13 if the Springbok is not fit, with Visser then going to fullback.
*Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has made two changes to the team that beat the Lions with a bonus point last weekend, with mobile eighthman Ryan Kankowski coming in for Tera Mthembu and powerhouse inside centre Andre Esterhuizen included instead of Heimar Williams.
There is also a change on the bench with Springbok Lourens Adriaanse replacing British Lion Matt Stevens.
Bulls: 15-Jesse Kriel, 14-Bjorn Basson, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jan Serfontein, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Handrè Pollard, 9-Rudy Paige, 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Lappies Labuschagne, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Victor Matfield, 4-Jacques du Plessis, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Mornè Mellet. Replacements – 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Dean Greyling, 18-Marcel van der Merwe, 19-Grant Hattingh, 20-Hanro Liebenberg, 21-Tian Schoeman, 22-Travis Ismaiel, 23-Jurgen Visser.
Sharks: 15-SP Marais, 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-Waylon Murray, 12-Andre Esterhuizen, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Cobus Reinach, 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Renaldo Bothma, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Pieter-Steph du Toit,
4-Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Dale Chadwick. Replacements – 16-Kyle Cooper, 17-Thomas du Toit, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Marco Wentzel, 20-Jean Deysel, 21-Conrad Hoffmann, 22-Fred Zeilinga/Lionel Cronje, 23-Jack Wilson.