Lizo Gqoboka is back from a family bereavement and will want to make a big impression once more when the Bulls take on Griquas in a Currie Cup semi-final.
Cape Town – The Bulls will have at least a few United Rugby Championship players to call on in Friday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Windhoek Draught Griquas at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kick-off).
Coach Gert Smal re-jigged his backline when he announced his team on Thursday, which sees regular centre Stedman Gans shift out to left wing to accommodate Marco Jansen van Vuren at No.12 from the team that lost 35-5 to the Cheetahs last week.
Jansen van Vuren will partner veteran Lionel Mapoe in midfield, while Gans’ skill-set will be valuable out wide, while also lending much-needed experience to the back-three alongside Richard Kriel and rookie Tharquinn Manuel.
But it’s in the pack of forwards that Smal has introduced real beef in an effort to gain physical dominance over Griquas. Powerful hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels, who was on tour with the URC side in Ireland for their memorable semi-final win over Leinster, will pack down at No.2, and he will have the experienced Lizo Gqoboka and Jacques van Rooyen in the front row with him.
Gqoboka is back from a family bereavement and will want to make a big impression once more, having had to withdraw from the URC quarter-final win over the Sharks on match-day.
Smal will hope that youngster Reinhardt Ludwig can handle the pressure in the lineouts as a No.5 lock, as he is normally a blindside flank, while prop Dylan Smith and hooker Sidney Tobias will hope to add some impetus to the pack in the second half.
Bulls Team (15-1): Richard Kriel, Tharquinn Manuel, Lionel Mapoe, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Stedman Gans, Juan Mostert, Keagan Johannes, Muller Uys, Ruan Delport, Jaco Labuschagne, Reinhardt Ludwig, Raynard Roets, Jacques van Rooyen, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Lizo Gqoboka (captain).
Bench (16-23): Sidney Tobias, Dylan Smith, Francois Klopper, Willie Potgieter, Stephan Smit, Bernard van der Linde, Niel Beukes, Quewin Nortjé.