Preview: Rugby returns on Super Saturday

After more than six months since competition was halted, South Africa’s teams will make a highly-anticipated return to action with a double-header at Loftus on Saturday.

Not forgetting the Cheetahs and Griquas are also in action on Saturday, plenty of attention will then turn to South Africa’s four Vodacom Super Rugby franchise teams for the Vodacom Super Fan Saturday.

All the action can be seen live on SuperSport, with the Vodacom Bulls kicking proceedings off against the Sharks at 4:30pm, and the Lions facing the Stormers at 7pm.

A new-look backline will be on display when the Durban-based side face the men from Pretoria in the first match on Saturday.

With Springbok World Cup stars Makazole Mapimpi (in Japan) and Sbu Nkosi (injured), as well as exciting prospect Aphelele Fassi (injured) not available, Sharks coach Sean Everitt has named a bunch of new backs in his squad.

Blitzboks Werner Kok and Muller du Plessis feature among the backs with new signing Manie Libbok, who returns to his former stomping ground in Pretoria, as well as the experienced Curwin Bosch, Lukhanyo Am, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw and JP Pietersen.

GRAPHIC: Super Fan Saturday teams

Meanwhile, Jake White included four Springbok loose forwards in his squad of 30 players for the Bulls’ clash with the Sharks.

Duane Vermeulen will lead the charge for the Bulls, in his first game back at Loftus Versfeld in 2020, having recently returned from a stint in Japan, while another Bok loosie, Arno Botha, is also back at his old home ground from Munster in Ireland.

White’s first competitive squad includes a number of returnees, new faces and debutants, including Nizaam Carr, in his debut for the Pretoria side, and fellow Bok flank Marco van Staden, former Blitzbok Tim Agaba and the promising Muller Uys also in the running to impress White for a starting spot in the loose trio, where the Vodacom Bulls have amazing depth.

Among the backs, Springbok and Blitzbok speedster Gio Aplon will debut for the Vodacom Bulls, where a number of tried-and-tested players will aim to stretch the Durbanites on defence.

Match details
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morne Ferreira
TMO: Willie Vos
TV: Live on SuperSport Grandstand

In the second match, Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant will make his Stormers debut in the familiar surroundings of Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, where he previously played for the Bulls before joining the Cape franchise during the lockdown.

No fewer than eight Springboks will feature in the Stormers match-day squad, which includes Bok captain Siya Kolisi and four front rankers with Test experience in Scarra Ntubeni, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff.

Gelant starts in the No 15 jersey, while the likes of Leon Lyons (prop), Hannes Gouws (utility forward), Tim Swiel (fyhalf), Michal Haznar (centre), Angelo Davids (wing) and Tristan Leyds (fullback) are set to earn their first DHL Stormers caps from the extended replacements bench.

For the Lions, Springbok flyhalf and 2019 Rugby World Cup-winner Elton Jantjies will lead a team that features a vibrant mix of youth and experience to face the Stormers.

Jantjies will be joined by four Springboks – Ruan Dreyer (prop), Marvin Orie (lock), Jaco Kriel (flank) and Courtnall Skosan (wing) – who have all been named in the starting lineup, while several former World Rugby U20 Championship players have been included in the squad of 30 players.

Match details
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morne Ferreira
TMO: Willie Vos
TV: Live on SuperSport Grandstand

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