Marnitz Boshoff will start at flyhalf for the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Friday when they take on Phakisa Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Round Three of the Currie Cup, sponsored by Direct Axis Financial Services.
The Nelspruit-born player replaces Manie Libbok as pivot as Vodacom Blue Bulls coach, Pote Human, made two changes to the side that lost out to the Toyota Free State Cheetahs last weekend, with Marco van Staden the other change at flank, where he takes over from Roelof Smit.
Ruan Steenkamp will again lead the side after taking over from Burger Odendaal, who pulled out of last weekend’s match shortly before kick-off.
Odendaal pulled out due to a leg injury and his replacement then, Dylan Sage, will wear the number 12 jersey.
Human made a number of changes to his bench as well, with Libbok dropping into an impact-player role this time around. Andre Warner will also get his first run in the competition off the bench, having replaced Ivan van Zyl.
Loose forward Wihan Vosloo is fit again and will play off the bench. Vosloo made his Vodacom Blue Bulls debut in Cape Town three weeks ago, but was injured early in the game and will be keen to add his effort when called upon.
“We are in trouble with no wins after two rounds and so are the Pumas. They were unlucky in both their losses as they were pipped at the end, while we were outplayed in both our defeats and given that the match is on their home turf, they must be favourites,” Human said.
“I know it is very early in the competition, but the reality is that another defeat could be a killer-blow for our chances to win the Currie Cup in 2019. We need to play with the urgency brought about by that reality and make sure we get our campaign back on track.”
Steenkamp said they will have to show they are capable to go all the way.
“It is almost like the slogan for the tournament, it is effort re-loaded for us. We need a strong showing and we need a win. We are going into a venue where the Pumas have beaten us in the past, so they will come at us. We are all playing for the Vodacom Blue Bulls to show that we are the best team in the competition and that starts on Friday.”
The team is: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Marnitz Boshoff, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Ruan Steenkamp (c), Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Adri Smit, Wihan Vosloo, Andre Warner, Manie Libbok, Jade Stighling.