Vodacom Bulls coach Pote Human says Saturday’s match against the Jaguares provides a chance for their backup players to stake a claim for starting roles.
Both flyhalf Handré Pollard and centre Jesse Kriel have been rested in alignment with Springbok protocol, with Duane Vermeulen to captain the team in the former’s absence.
Schalk Brits’ four-match suspension has provided youngster Corniel Els, who has impressed in his six outings off the bench this year, with his first start in a Bulls jersey, while Jason Jenkins’ injury-enforced withdrawal means Hanro Liebenberg will once again shift to lock.
Wingers Johnny Kotze and Jade Stighling also come into the starting lineup.
Human told the media on Wednesday that while not all the changes were planned, they do give some of the Bulls youngsters massive opportunities against what he expects to be a strong Jaguares outfit.
‘They will bring a good squad, their best squad, unlike when they previously visited South Africa, but I have confidence in these guys to deliver for us on Saturday.
‘We originally only wanted to rest Handré and Jesse, but unfortunately we got that red card last week [to Brits]. We still have to look at Duane and see when we can give him a rest.
‘We have had a really good week,’ Human added. ‘The guys are hungry to play. The guys who have come in have trained really well. I know everyone wants to play Super Rugby, and here is an opportunity for them. They must show what they can do against an excellent Jaguares team.’
Pollard’s enforced break means Manie Libbok gets the chance to take the reins at No 10. Human is looking forward to seeing what the former Junior Springbok can do.
‘Last year in the Currie Cup I took him off after 15 minutes [against Western Province], but then he came back and had an awesome game in the semi-final in Cape Town. We are always very excited to give him a chance because it’s difficult to play in Pollard’s shadow. This is a chance for him to show what he can do. He has other skills that Polly doesn’t have. He has good feet and he’s also a special player.’
Photo: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images