Lood de Jager will make a welcome return to competitive rugby on Saturday when the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in Cape Town in the opening weekend of the Currie Cup, sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services.
De Jager last played in February before picking up an injury that ruled him out of action for the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition and his return will boost the chances of coach Pote Human charges in their season’s opener at DHL Newlands.
Human named a squad full of familiar faces following Super Rugby, with flanker Wian Vosloo the only newcomer to the squad.
The 24-year old played for the Cell C Sharks in 2018 and is one of five players making their Currie Cup debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
De Jager, Cornal Hendricks, Rosko Specman and prop Wiehahn Herbst will all play for the team for the first time in the competition.
Jean Droste, who played age group rugby for the Vodacom Blue Bulls before a couple of seasons with the Cell C Sharks, is also back in Pretoria and will play off the bench.
Human said they are expecting a massive match against their Cape Town opponents.
“What a way to start this competition – against Province in Cape Town. It does not come tougher than this,” Human said.
The coach said De Jager’s return to action will be a good boost for their chances.
“Lood played very well before his injury and worked really hard to get back onto the field. I am sure he is ready to give it a good go. We have some form players in the team at the moment, but playing at Newlands against such a formidable team is always a tough start,” Human said.
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said they will need to make every opportunity count.
“With only one round in this year’s competition, we need to take every chance that comes our way. I expect this year’s Currie Cup to be very, very competitive and every result will be crucial. We need to start well and keep up the pressure in order to have a chance this weekend,” Odendaal said.
The team is: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager, Ruan Nortjie, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Roelof Smit, Ivan van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff, Dylan Sage.