Jake White has made it clear that there are ‘no hard feelings’ after Damian Willemse opted for a three year contract extension with the Stormers.
Willemse was a player the Vodacom Bulls were interested in luring to Pretoria, but that was put to bed last week when Willemse decided to instead sign on with the Stormers/WP.
The decision comes in the week preceding the Bulls’ clash with the Stormers at Loftus. When Willemse lines up at fullback, it will no doubt add some more emotion to a contest already steeped in tradition and feeling.
‘Everyone has to make decisions in life as we all know,’ White said. ‘I respect Damian’s decision. Obviously, he’s made it clear that he likes the lifestyle in Cape Town and is happy there. I really wish him all the best. There are no hard feelings. Damian is a good rugby player and that’s why we were chasing him.’
The Bulls have won 10 matches on the bounce at Loftus since Jake White joined the side and will not want to see that record slip against their biggest rivals. White has named a side balanced with youth and experience to front the men from Cape Town.
Springboks Cornal Hendricks and Trevor Nyakane are back, while there is also a first start for the live-wire Zak Burger and promising flanker Werner Gouws. The side is captained by Nizaam Carr in the absence of Duane Vermeulen who continues his rehab from knee injury.
According to White, Vermeulen is doing ‘really well’ as he recovers in Cape Town with Bok physio Rene Naylor. He is due to return to Pretoria in three weeks time.
Bulls – 15 Richard Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Werner Gouws, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Joe van Zyl, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Diego Appollis, 24 Nolan Pienaar, 25 Raynard Roets, 26 Marnus Potgieter.