Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais opted for a youthful squad for his ABSA Currie Cup coaching debut on Saturday, when the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
He also named former Free State flanker, Lappies Labuschagne, as captain for the season opener. It will be the flanker’s 1st match with the Barberton daisy on the chest, although he has played for the hosts 44 times before he moved to Pretoria.
The squad is packed with players who represented the Junior Springboks in recent years, while some seasoned Springboks add the needed degree of experience.
Making ABSA Currie Cup debuts in the backline for the Vodacom Blue Bulls are Warrick Gelant and Travis Ismaiel, with Hanro Liebenberg, Marvin Orie and Jaco Visagie also running out as Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup players for the 1st time on Saturday. Amongst the replacements, Nqoba Mxoli, RG Snyman, Ivan van Zyl and Dries Swanepoel will all make a 1st Currie Cup appearance, should they be called upon.
Prop Werner Kruger will play in his 98th match in the competition.
Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named flanker Lappies Labuschagne as captain of the Vodacom Blue Bulls team to face Japanese outfit Canon Eagles, in Machida, Tokyo on Friday.
The starting team is packed with players who have played in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament this year, with only former Springbok Sevens speedsters, Warrick Gelant (fullback), Jamba Ulengo (wing) and former Junior Springbok Dries Swanepoel, who have not played at that level before.
Marais included Springboks Deon Stegmann, Werner Kruger, Arno Botha, Francois Hougaard and Dean Greyling, with Bandise Maku playing off the bench.
Loose forward Lappies Labuschagne will captain the Blue Bulls in their warm-up game against the Canon Eagles in Japan next week, the union announced on Thursday.
Midfielder Burger Odendaal will fill in as Labuschagne’s deputy in the match scheduled for Friday 31 July.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais earlier this week named a 27-man squad for the trip to Japan.
Springboks Francois Hougaard, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling and Bandise Maku are all among the travelling group.
Lappies Labuschagne will be out of action for at least a month and will undergo surgery on his larynx on Thursday to repair damage to his vocal chords.
Labuschagne has been struggling since the Vodacom Bulls’ defeat against the Chiefs on tour, 3 weeks ago, but chose to continue playing to try and help the Bulls make the Super Rugby playoffs.
After that hope disappeared after their loss to the Melbourne Rebels last weekend, the Bulls flanker decided to follow medical advice and go under the knife.
According to team doctor Org Strauss, he will be out for at least a month as he recovers but should be ready to play in the ABSA Currie Cup series at the end of July.
The Bulls were further hit by bad news with the withdrawal of flanker Deon Stegmann with bruised ribs, ruling himself out of contention for the game this weekend against the Toyota Cheetahs and joining a number of stalwarts on the sidelines.
The Bulls will name their side on Thursday, but chances are it will be a relatively young and inexperienced team to face the Cheetahs, with coach Frans Ludeke resting several players.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made 7 changes to his starting team to face the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby clash in Melbourne on Saturday. There are 3 changes in the backline that faced the Brumbies last weekend and 4 in the pack.
Jesse Kriel, Travis Ismaiel and Jacques-Louis Potgieter all move into starting positions off the bench, replacing Jurgen Visser, Bjorn Basson and Handré Pollard respectively. Visser and Basson will play off the bench, but Pollard will be rested for this clash.
Instead, Tian Schoeman, who joined the touring party on Tuesday, will be the back-up flyhalf on the bench.
In the pack, injured Deon Stegmann is replaced by Lappies Labuschagne, with Grant Hattingh moving to the bench to make way for Victor Matfield. The veteran lock will play in his 148th match at this level. In a straight swop, Jacques du Plessis starts at No 7 and Arno Botha moves to the bench.
Adriaan Strauss was only not considered due to the resting agreement with SARU, resulting in Callie Visagie running onto the field for his 50th match for the Vodacom Bulls in the No 2 jersey. Jaco Visagie will be on the bench.
According to Ludeke this is do or die for the team.
Regular Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies is back at the helm and at No 8 for the Vodacom Bulls team to face the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
Spies played as a replacement in the team’s last Vodacom Super Rugby clash, against the Emirates Lions at Loftus Versfeld, and will replace Arno Botha at the back of the scrum. Botha will move to the side of the scrum, with Jacques du Plessis moving to the bench.
In the only change in the backline, Rudy Paige comes back at scrumhalf in place of injured Piet van Zyl.
There are 4 changes on the bench. Dean Greyling comes in for Morné Mellett and a fit-again Werner Kruger will replace Andrew Beerwinkel. It will be Kruger’s 1st appearance since the opening Round of the tournament when he injured his ankle against the DHL Stormers in February. Amongst the backs, Jacques-Louis Potgieter is fit again following a hamstring strain and replaces Tian Schoeman and Travis Ismaiel comes in for Jurgen Visser.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed that 3 players, Dean Greyling, Basil Short and Hencus van Wyk, were withdrawn from this weekend’s matches for the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls after suffering minor injuries in a car crash on Wednesday.
Greyling (knee) and Van Wyk (scrape wounds) were due to play for the Vodacom Bulls against the Emirates Lions and Short (neck) for the Vodacom Blue Bulls against the Limpopo Blue Bulls on Saturday.
They will be replaced by Morné Mellett, Dayan van der Westhuizen and Nqoba Mxoli respectively.
According to Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager of the Blue Bulls Company, the trio were returning home from a quick hunting trip just outside Pretoria when their vehicle overturned.
“We are grateful that they did not sustain any serious injuries. Dean injured his knee, Hencus suffered some burns and Basil injured his neck, which resulted in him spending the night in hospital for observation. We wish them a speedy recovery.”
Greyling and Van Wyk is still due to travel with the Bulls on their overseas leg of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition, departing Sunday.
The Vodacom Bulls, fresh off a narrow loss to the DHL Stormers this past weekend, next face the ever-improving Emirates Lions, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday in the last Super Rugby match of the weekend.
It appears as though regular captain Pierre Spies is under the weather and will therefor sit out of the clash, with Victor Matfield back from Springbok rest and injury recovery set to take over the captaince helm for the vital match.
Meanwhile head coach Frans Ludeke is still moaning and groaning about the difficult laws and interpreations of those laws by the Super Rugby Referees.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke reshuffled his pack of forwards and recalled Handré Pollard at flyhalf for his team to face the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
Pollard, who replaces Jacques-LouisPotgieter in the only change to the backline that won against the Reds in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash last weekend, was rested last week as per SARU arrangement.
In the pack, Ludeke has Adriaan Strauss back after the hooker was also rested against the Reds, while he also picked a new loose trio, lock combination and front row to face the coastal side in the visitor’s 1st return match in the South African conference.
In the front row, Strauss and Marcel van der Merwe will start with Dean Greyling, with Callie Visagie and Trevor Nyakane moving to the bench. The lock combination of Flip van der Merwe and Grant Hattingh will pack down together for the 1st time this year, with Jacques du Plessis moving to the side of the scrum, where he will partner Deon Stegmann and Pierre Spies.
Incumbent Springboks Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein and Handré Pollard is fit again and will be considered for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
According to Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss, all 3 are ready to travel to the East Coast, along with Lappies Labuschagne, who recovered from the shoulder injury which kept him out of action for the matches against the Crusaders, Emirates Lions and Reds.
Adriaan Strauss was rested against the Reds according to the SARU agreement, while Jan Serfontein last played against the Western Force and Pollard against the Crusaders.
A number of players, Jacques-Louis Potgieter (hamstring), Marcel van der Merwe (ankle), Burger Odendaal (contusion), Bjorn Basson (ankle) and Morné Mellett (back spasm) did not train on Monday, but will be back on Tuesday, Strauss confirmed. Akona Ndungane has also recovered from a broken hand.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has some uncomfortable decisions to make as his team head into the next phase of Vodacom Super Rugby.
The use of the squad system has done them well so far with the injuries they have had, but there are still some pressing concerns about the form of certain players, which need to be addressed with a number of young upstarts knocking hard on the door.
At both loose forward and in the midfield, Ludeke will have to make decisions going forward as to who will be the better combination and what will serve his team’s interests better as they edge towards the top of the South African conference.
Saturday’s 31 / 19 win over the Crusaders was a remarkable one not only for the commitment of the players on the field, but for the injuries they suffered before kickoff – losing Lappies Labuschagne and Arno Botha before the game started and Jan Serfontein in the midfield as well.
With a long tour still ahead of them later in the season, the next few weeks will be crucial to secure as many points as possible on South African soil, starting with Saturday’s Jukskei derby against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.
While the normal Monday assessment still needs to happen, it seems Labuschagne could be back in contention for his starting spot this weekend, and on the form of Saturday, it would be hard to deny Hanro Liebenberg another go at the opposition given the big performance he gave coming into the side at such late notice.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke restored props Morné Mellett and Trevor Nyakane to the starting line-up for their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Both props played off the bench in last weekend’s win against the Force and swop places with Dean Greyling and Marcel van der Merwe in 2 of the 4 changes to the pack. In the other changes to the pack and team, Victor Matfield returns to the No 5 lock position, swopping places with Grant Hattingh, who returns to his regular role as impact player.
Lappies Labuschagne also did not recover from a chest injury sustained against the Force and will sit out. He will be replaced by Arno Botha, who moves up from the bench. Hanro Liebenberg takes over from Botha on the bench.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the signings of Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Pieter Labuschagne and Jamba Ulengo. All three forwards will join the Vodacom Bulls on November 1st, 2014, while Ulengo has already started training with the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Springbok hooker Strauss, who captained the Toyota Cheetahs in recent seasons, was South Africa’s Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2013 and returns to Loftus Versfeld, where he made his Vodacom Super Rugby career in 2006 after a seven year absence. He has signed a two year deal.
Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss lauded his team’s efforts in their 27-20 victory over the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
“Everyone, including the guys coming off the bench, had a good game,” said Strauss after the match.
“They really put up their hands and played for one another.
“A lot of the guys leave at the end of the season and we wanted to give them a good farewell at our home ground.
“I think we achieved that. Next we face the Lions away and we will be looking for another good performance to round things off.”
The Cheetahs will not able to call on the services of Heinrich Brüssow for their Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Coach Naka Drotské said that the loose forward is still struggling with a groin injury and won’t be risked for the game.
Philip van der Walt (hand) and Jean Cook (shoulder) are ready for action again, while Oupa Mohoje has also returned from the Springboks.
The Cheetahs will be able to call on the services of Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen and Johan Goosen for their Super Rugby clash against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Cheetahs are hoping to have two key players available for their Super Rugby clash against the Stormers in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
According to reports, flyhalf Johan Goosen (concussion) and flank Lappies Labuschagné (groin) could be ready to face the Capetonians.
Heinrich Brüssow will be back in the Cheetahs starting team for their Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
Lappies Labuschagné has groin injury which paves the way for Brüssow’s return.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has dropped a selection bomb by axing star loose forward Pieter Labuschagne ahead of the Super Rugby Round 6 encounter with the Blues on Saturday.
Drotské made a number of changes to the team – all surprising selection – as the men from Bloemfontein look to end their losing streak on tour.
This is the forth in the series of Cheetahs Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2014. We do 2 articles per week per South African Super Rugby participating franchise.
We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOOSE FORWARDS in the Toyota Cheetahs 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Cheetahs stars, Adriaan Strauss (ankle sprain), Johan Goosen (illness), and Lappies Labuschagne (hamstring) did not train yesterday, in preparation for Friday’s encounter versus the Waratahs. All three are expected to be fit to play.
His brief was just to complete his 30 minutes of rugby and walk off the field uninjured. However his time on the field showed why his return has been so keenly anticipated, not only by the Cheetahs fans but by most rugby lovers. He hardly looked as if he had been away from the game for two years.
Johan Goosen and Coenie Oosthuizen have given the Cheetahs a boost with news that the Springbok duo will be fit for the start of the Super Rugby season.
Naka Drotske has reason to smile, as it is reported that Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen (back) and Johan Goosen (knee) are progressing well. Willie le Roux (groin), Phillip van der Walt (knee), Lappies Labuschagne (ankle) and Springbok Heinrich Brüssow (shoulder) are all on track for early participation in this years Super Rugby Competition.
With Coenie Oosthuizen out injured, and Phillip van der Walt being rested, the chances are good that Marcel van der Merwe, who had a stellar Vodacom Cup tournament for the Cheetahs, and promising young flanker Lappies Labuschagne will get selected for the weekends clash with the Bulls.
Amidst the recent hype about players leaving the Cheetahs, and some people speculating about the reasons for it, Naka has just gone about his business, and bolstered his ranks. Loose forwards Lappies Labuschagne, and 7’s specialist Boom Prinsloo have both signed until the end of 2014. Both Boom and Lappies played with great success in last years Currie Cup, and together with Heinrich Brussow, Phillip van der Walt and hopefully Juan Smith, can again form a formidable loose trio.