Marais’ fringe to show him what they’ve got

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

IT may seem like just an­other rugby ad­ven­ture in the un­fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings of Zim­babwe’s cap­i­tal but there will be a lot at stake for many of the Bulls play­ers on Satur­day when they take on the Lions in a Su­per Rugby warmup match.

Bulls coach Nol­lis Marais has avoided nam­ing his strong­est XV and has pre­ferred to af­ford many of his fringe play­ers an op­por­tu­nity to make him think other­wise of what his start­ing team will look like in their sea­son opener against the Storm­ers at New­lands at the end of next month.

Fly­half Tony Jantjies looks prob­a­ble to start af­ter a hia­tus from the sky blue jer­sey that saw him fea­ture for the EP Kings.

Jantjies, who is younger brother to Spring­bok fly­half El­ton, looks in the best con­di­tion of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

But he won’t be the only player un­der the mi­cro­scope in Harare.

All of Abongile Nonkont­wana, who will start at No 5, wing JT Jack­son, util­ity back Manie Lib­bok and new­comer from the Storm­ers Johnny Kotze, who will start in a mid­field pair­ing with the lit­tle known Rabs Maxwane, will be able to show off their wares.

More­over, Namib­ian cap­tain Re­naldo Botma is over his in­juries and will be one to keep an eye on at No 8, while flank Hen­dre Stassen, lock Ruben van Heer­den and prop Coen­raad van Vu­uren will be keen to im­press Marais.

Many of Marais’ starters and a host of Spring­boks will get some game time off the bench with Lood de Jager likely to get his first run in a Bulls jer­sey since mak­ing the trek from Bloem­fontein to Pre­to­ria. Spring­bok fly­half Han­dre Pol­lard is also set to get his first taste of rugby in over a year af­ter be­ing crip­pled by in­jury last year.

The Bulls have pen­cilled in cap­tain and for­mer Spring­bok hooker Adri­aan Strauss in their tour­ing squad but he won’t be avail­able to play as he is still re­cov­er­ing from a back op­er­a­tion he had at the end of last year and will pos­si­bly only be avail­able for se­lec­tion in March .

An­other Bok and no­mad, Jac­ques Pot­gi­eter, has re­cently re­turned from Ja­pan and will also be on the bench, while for­mer Ju­nior Spring­bok flank Shaun Aden­dorff also makes a wel­come re­turn to the Bulls af­ter hav­ing played for Boland in the past few sea­sons.

Ju­nior Spring­bok full­back War­rick Ge­lant also makes a re­turn to ac­tion af­ter two in­juries sus­tained in the open­ing matches of the Bulls Su­per Rugby cam­paign.

Ge­lant will be in a bat­tle for the No 15 jer­sey with Spring­bok util­ity back Jesse Kriel.

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