Original article by By Brenden Nel
The Vodacom Bulls will need to do a juggling act this week thanks to their success in the Rainbow Cup final and face a challenge no South African side has done before – play two games on two different continents on the same day.
While the Bulls will be in the Rainbow Cup final on Saturday against Italian side Benetton Treviso, a game that kicks off at 6.30pm and will be their main focus on Saturday, they will also open their Currie Cup defence a few hours earlier in a match against Western Province at Loftus Versfeld at 4pm.
Both games will be broadcast live on Supersport, but it will require some juggling by the Pretoria franchise, especially with the Springbok and SA under-20 camps also taking players away from them at the same time.
It could be argued that the team playing in the Rainbow Cup could have been given some leeway by the organisers with a bye in the first week of the Currie Cup but for some inexplicable reason, that bye has gone to the Free State Cheetahs.
Still, all that doesn’t matter as the Bulls have to figure out how with a squad of 45 they can play two teams of 23 on the same day, especially given injuries and call-ups, as well as extra travelling reserves that have to be in the side to Italy.
It is likely that the Bulls will travel on Monday with 28 players to Italy, and factoring in the injuries to Embrose Papier, Arno Botha, Elrigh Louw and Duane Vermeulen, as well as Springbok call-ups to Marco van Staden, Trevor Nyakane and Morne Steyn, those left at Loftus will be a shadow of the side that fans would expect.
The Bulls have also lost six players to the SA under-20 camp and have called up a group of eight club players to their side – including former Springbok Errol Tobias’ son Sydney – to try and prepare for the Currie Cup.
It is also not certain who will be coaching the team in the absence of White, but it is likely to be Pine Pienaar.
“I don’t think we have too many injuries, and we will see what the best 25/26/27 man squad would be. And then we will have to look at who we can select from our Carlton League clubs. We have been planning for a while now,” White said on Saturday.
“We knew we would be short of players and we lost seven or eight players to the SA under-20 camp. Not only have we lost a couple of Springboks, but we have also lost a few youngsters, but we have been planning.
“I’ve got Pine Pienaar, who is a technical guy with our squad and he went to watch a few Carlton League games and then we will put together a squad from the guys who are left over and the guys have been training for the past few days.”
White said it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if the Bulls do unearth a few players through their club system.
“It gives us a chance to see new players and the Carlton League is a good league. If we get two or three players out of that system and they stay with us for the next year or two, then we have had two wins. To play in a final with our senior team and to play in the Currie Cup with the players that are left over is what we face,” he said.
The reality though is the Currie Cup probably deserved better than what it will face on Saturday and while Western Province will be heavily favoured to win at Loftus Versfeld, it will be somewhat of a hollow win given the circumstances.