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Ken Borland

Jake still nursing Bulls into full rhythm, but makes 6 changes 0

Posted on October 23, 2020 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White said on Thursday that he is still nursing his team into full rhythm, but he has still made six changes to the starting line-up for their Super Rugby Unlocked match against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls will field much the same backline that gave the Sharks such a headache in Pretoria a month ago on SuperFan Saturday, with Stedman Gans and Cornal Hendricks reunited in the centres, Travis Ismaiel and Kurt-Lee Arendse on the wings and Ivan van Zyl starting at scrumhalf. David Kriel starts at fullback after Gio Aplon’s season was ended by a knee injury in last weekend’s loss to the Free State Cheetahs.

Up front, Springbok tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe is back at full fitness after ankle surgery and will make his return to the Bulls side after his three-and-a-half year stint with Toulon, and highly-rated youngster Elrigh Louw will start at blindside flank with veteran Arno Botha on the bench.

“I would like to see more cohesion, but the guys have not played much together and we have been making changes to the team. I would just like to see more rhythm in attack and defence and the team that gets that right the quickest, that hits their straps first, will create the most problems. So far this competition has been very top-start with lots of mistakes slowing everything down.

“And this is a new group of players, which is also a disadvantage, other teams have had their squads together much longer. But it’s not an excuse and we just need to try as hard as we can to get some rhythm and continuity going. A lot of the changes will come on after halftime and play the back end of the match and the strength of the bench is also very important,” White said on Thursday.

Judging by what happened the last time these two teams met, those watching in their homes are probably most excited by two scintillating backlines going up against each other and Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen was particularly excited by his own backs.

“Cornal and Stedman showed what a good combination they are and I guess the coach wants to see if they can play well again together this weekend. Travis and Kurt-Lee are back as well so we have two very exciting wings and David Kriel has put his hand up very well in the last two games, so I’m sure he will easily fit in at fullback,” Vermeulen said.

Bulls team:  David Kriel, Travis Ismaiel, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Duane Vermeulen (C), Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Johan Grobbelaar, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements – Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp, Trevor Nyakane, Sintu Manjezi, Arno Botha, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Marco Jansen van Vuren.

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