Sergeal Petersen is set to make his Vodacom Bulls debut in a rejigged team for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash against Zebre in Parma on Saturday.
The former SA Schools and SA U20 flyer, who has since represented the Southern Kings (2013), Cheetahs (2015-2017) and Stormers (2019-2022) in a journeyman career, was unveiled as a new signing by the Bulls in July.
“We rate Sergeal highly, that is why we brought him into our setup,” said Bulls chief Jake White. “We know what he offers our squad and he has a lot more experience than some of our outside backs. He has pace, he is really quick and he can play at fullback so I am quiet keen to see how he adapts playing with this back three. He understands fullback play as well so it will be good to have a wing that can play fullback.”
In the aftermath of a 26-19 reverse at Ulster in round 2, White made a number of changes to the starting lineup – six personnel and one positional switch. In the front row, loosehead prop Gerhard Steenekamp and hooker Johan Grobbelaar make way for Simphiwe Matanzima and Akker van der Werwe, Janko Swanepoel takes over from lock Ruan Vermaak, Zak Burger replaces Embrose Papier at scrumhalf, Cornel Hendricks drops out with David Kriel shifting to inside centre and Stedman Gans given the start at No 13, and Petersen is on the left wing.
Prop Dylan Smith will make his season debut off the bench alongside Grobbelaar, Mornay Smith, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Papier, Chris Smith and Wandisile Simelane.
Though Zebre are winless this season, they lost both of their matches – against Ulster and Ospreys – by a combined seven points.
“We expect Zebre to score a lot of points,” said White. “They scored 36 in the opening match and scored 36 in their second too, so they score a lot of tries. We expect a tough game and for them to test our defence really hard.
“They were in both their opening games till the death. This Zebre side came close against Ulster and they were in it against Ospreys so we know they will be tough opponents for sure. They were a scrum away from the match against Ulster and they just just lost it against Ospreys, so there are no easy games.
“Zebre, with the make-up of their squad, probably have the least number of internationals and that means they have the least amount of disruptions which makes them hard to come up against at the start of a season.”
BULLS – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elright Louw, 6 Marcell Coetzee (c), 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Wandisile Simelane
🚨 TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT 🚨
Here is your Vodacom Bulls team to take on Zebre Parma tomorrow 🐂
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) November 3, 2023
Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix