Flyhalf Joshua Stander could earn a first senior start for the Blue Bulls in the 2014 Currie Cup when the home team face Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The 20-year old former Queens College player has been bracketed with Jacques-Louis Potgieter at flyhalf and could make his debut for the team should the latter fail a fitness test.
Stander has played for the Blue Bulls Under-21 side in the Absa Provincial Championship this season and was an unused replacement in the victory against the EP Kings last weekend.
Should Stander or Potgieter play, they will be one of four changes to the side that won 30-25 against the Kings.
The flyhalf will come in for Tony Jantjies (concussion), while Piet van Zyl (for Rudy Paige – bench), Callie Visagie (for Bongi Mbonambi – bench)) and Werner Kruger (for Marcel van der Merwe – Springboks) will return to the run-on team.
On the bench, Tian Schoeman (for Stander) and Ryan Nell (for Ulrich Beyers) could make their Currie Cup debuts.
Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted that they face an uphill battle this weekend against the undefeated Western Province.
“It is not ideal when you have to bracket players two days before a match, especially at flyhalf, but we can only make the final call once it is clear that Jacques-Louis cannot play. He has made great progress following his rib injury and we will leave the decision on his inclusion as late as possible.”
Ludeke was confident that the Blue Bulls could continue their winning form at Loftus Versfeld.
“No doubt that WP is playing very well and outplayed us in Cape Town a couple of weeks back, but we have turned the corner since then, I believe. We will be up against it, but there is no reason why we cannot be very competitive,” Ludeke said.
“We have an experienced pack that will hold their own and the new faces in the backs are all full of attacking potential.”
The match starts at 17:05 SA Time.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter / Joshua Stander, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (Captain), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Ryan Nell.
DHL Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (Captain), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers (Vice-captain), 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Pat Howard.