The Executive: Rugby and head coach of the Vodacom Blue Bulls, John Mitchell, named an unchanged starting team to face Steval Pumas at Loftus Versfeld on Friday in the home side’s last Currie Cup league fixture of the season.
Mitchell only made one forced change amongst the reserves from the squad that travelled to Bloemfontein last weekend, with Ulrich Beyers being replaced by Travis Ismaiel. Beyers were concussed in the win over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and unavailable for this weekend, while Ismaiel makes a timely return from injury.
“We are slowly but surely getting into some sort of rhythm in our play and consistency in selection, things that are important if you want to make it into the play-offs,” Mitchell said. “We are still in with a chance to make it into the final four and owe it to ourselves and our supporters out there to give it a full go.”
A number of permutations are in play in the final round of regulation play, with five of the seven teams fighting it out for the three remaining spot, including the Steval Pumas.
“They are still in contention to make it into the semis and also have everything to play for. This will make for a very competitive match,” said Mitchell of Friday night’s clash.
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, agrees. “They gave us a good hiding when we played them earlier in the season, but that was the start of the turn-around for us. We are confident that we are progressing into a competitive squad and that we can put together the performance needed to stay in the competition. It will be nice if we can have a decent crowd to spur us on as well,” Odendaal said.
The team is: Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Burger Odendaal (c), JT Jackson, Johnny Kotze, Marnitz Boshoff, Ivan van Zyl, Nic de Jager, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Jano Venter, Boom Prinsloo, Piet van Zyl, Tony Jantjies, Travis Ismaiel