JOHANNESBURG – It may only be a warm-up match, but the Bulls and Stormers players will be looking to make an early impression with an eye on selection for the Springbok World Cup squad when they clash in Cape Town on Sunday.
Bulls captain Lood de Jager said an early show of form would go a long way in getting the nod from national coach Rassie Erasmus.
“There are no guaranteed places. I think the previous World Cup was an example of that, and Rassie is a guy who selects sides on form,” De Jager said yesterday.
“He told us he will be picking the best 31 players available, so if you are not in form in Super Rugby, you will not be on the plane going to the World Cup.
“It is important for each player who has the ambitions to go to the World Cup to have a good start in Super Rugby, and continue that form going into the international season.”
De Jager was among eight Bok players who were named in the Bulls’ starting XV for the weekend’s clash against the Capetonians.
He will be leading the team out for the first time as captain, and will be joined by new acquisitions and fellow Boks Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits.
Vermeulen will slot in at No 8 alongside Jannes Kirsten and Paul Schoeman, who will also be making his first appearance for the Bulls since joining from the Cheetahs.
The Bulls team will be further strengthened by Handré Pollard, Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel, Ivan van Zyl and Trevor Nyakane, who have all played for the Boks in the past.
De Jager said while the addition of a few more national players would bolster their chances of success in Super Rugby this year, it was anything but a guarantee.
“The last couple of years we’ve had talented sides, but we’ve lacked experience here and there,” De Jager said.
“This year we have quite a good blend of experience, youth, and talent, so now it is up to us to go out on (to) the field and execute and stick to our processes.
“But I think guys like Duane, Schalk, Handré, Jesse and a couple of them bring a lot of experience, and the team does have a bit of a Springbok feel to it.”
A real highlight for our @Vodacom #SuperRugby super heroes as they get to meet the brave little heroes of the @CHOCfoundation who face, and overcome, adversity every day.#TacklingCancer #BullsFamily pic.twitter.com/O8sC49SZfy
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) January 30, 2019
Warrick Gelant, Jade Stighling, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Duncan Matthews, Handre Pollard, Ivan van Zyl, Duane Vermeulen, Jannes Kirsten, Paul Schoeman, Lood de Jager (captain), Eli Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Brits, Lizo Gqoboka.
Bench: Corniel Els, Simphiwe Matanzina, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Ruan Nortjé, Ruan Steenkamp, Thembelani Bholi, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Dylan Sage, Johnny Kotze, Divan Rossouw.