Cape Town - Bulls director of rugby Jake White has opted to pick an almost full-strength side for Friday’s Currie Cup opener against the Pumas in Mbombela.
While some teams have opted to have separate squads for the Currie Cup and United Rugby Championship, the Bulls appear to be mixing and matching players for both tournaments.
White has said that he will work closely with Currie Cup head coach Gert Smal on managing the squads, and he has chosen to give most of his first-choice URC players much-needed game time in the first Currie Cup match at Mbombela Stadium (7pm kickoff).
The only real omissions from the team announced on Thursday are veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn, usual captain Marcell Coetzee and top No 3 Mornay Smith.
But it is a team filled with firepower at the backline, where Kurt-Lee Arendse will get a chance at No 15, while regular fullback David Kriel will have a run at outside centre, while his brother Richard is at left wing.
Experienced centre Cornal Hendricks takes over the captaincy in Coetzee’s absence, while Chris Smith will start at flyhalf.
In an interesting switch to the loose trio, Elrigh Louw is now back at his old blindside flank position after playing at No 8 last year, with Arno Botha at the back of the scrum and youngster Jaco Labuschagne at openside flank.
The likes of Lizo Gqoboka, Sintu Manjezi and Stedman Gans will look to make a major impact off the bench in the second half against a physical Pumas side that will try to cause an upset on their home ground.
Bulls Team: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Madosh Tambwe 13 David Kriel 12 Cornal Hendricks (captain) 11 Richard Kriel 10 Chris Smith 9 Embrose Papier 8 Arno Botha 7 Elrigh Louw 6 Jaco Labuschagne 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Jacques van Rooyen 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 17 Lizo Gqoboka 18 Robert Hunt 19 Sintu Manjezi 20 WJ Steenkamp 21 Zak Burger 22 Juan Mostert 23 Stedman Gans.