Most of the first-choice players sat out the wins over Eastern Province and the Pumas, so Jake White is likely to bring in some of his stars this week when he announces his team tomorrow.
CAPE TOWN – While the South African franchises are in preparation mode for the Rainbow Cup, there is never anything “pre-season” about a Bulls vs Stormers match.
Coach Jake White may be smarting somewhat about the fact that Damian Willemse has decided to stay in the Cape and not move to Pretoria, while he also has to grapple with the make-up of his team for Friday’s match at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kick-off).
Most of the first-choice players sat out the wins over Eastern Province and the Pumas, so the former Bok boss is likely to bring in some of his stars this week when he announces his team tomorrow.
The last time these two sides faced off was last November when a 14-man Bulls (following a red card to Jacques van Rooyen) pulled off a last-gasp 22-20 victory over Western Province in the Currie Cup at Newlands, although the Capetonians were on top for much of the game.
So, to avoid a repeat performance from White’s outfit, these four Bulls need to take the fight to the Stormers on Friday …
Even before Van Rooyen was sent off for a dangerous tackle, the Bulls were under tremendous pressure in the scrums against WP last November. They conceded a number of penalties in the first half, with Van Rooyen, Johan Grobbelaar and Trevor Nyakane feeling the heat.
If Nyakane is reintroduced to the team for Friday’s game, he needs to set the record straight against his Springbok counterpart Steven Kitshoff, who has been outstanding over the last few months.
Nyakane was impressive in the closing stages of the Currie Cup, but will have to get one over Kitshoff to push for the Bok No.3 jersey.
One of the new band of standout youngsters last season, Elrigh Louw’s Currie Cup campaign was disrupted by injury. But before that, the 21-year-old proved to be a physical force for the Bulls.
He is a powerful ball-carrier who also has impressive offloading skills, while he is an excellent line-out jumper and imposing defender.
The Bulls battled to stop Kitshoff from winning a number of breakdown penalties last November, so one way of doing that is for Louw to run over him!
Having watched Ivan van Zyl set the tempo for the Bulls’ attack last season, Papier now has the chance to establish himself as the first-choice No.9, as Van Zyl is moving to English club Saracens in July. Papier needs to have a similar overall effect on his team’s performances, which means that he has to contribute more than just the odd line-break that he is renowned for.
His service from the base has improved in recent months, but Friday is an ideal opportunity for Papier to prove himself against World Cup winner Herschel Jantjies.
Paarl youngster Stravino Jacobs has shown that he can handle the physicality and speed at the top level, with some nifty footwork and even a big kicking boot at times.
But one area he hasn’t really been tested is under the high ball, where he made the odd mistake last season.
With the Stormers’ strong focus on their kicking game, Jacobs will have to handle those ‘bombs’ and absorb the pressure from opposite number Sergeal Petersen.