Deon Stegmann will lead the Blue Bulls during the upcoming Currie Cup campaign.
The Bulls will finalise their preparations for the tournament with a warm-up match against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday. Ludeke has named a strong 26-man squad for the clash, with Stegmann captaining the team from the No 6 jersey.
'It was an easy decision to call on “Steggies” to lead the team this year,' said coach Frans Ludeke. 'He is not only one of the most experienced players in the squad, but also one who leads by example on and off the field. We have a lot of younger players coming through from our structures and it is important to have a senior player who understands the Blue Bulls ethos and work ethic, to guide and mould them into that culture.'
Stegmann brings with him a wealth of experience, having played 54 provincial matches for the Bulls since making his debut back in 2007. He also has six Springbok caps, the last of which came against New Zealand during the 2011 Tri-Nations.
'He has won Test caps with the Springboks, the Super Rugby title with the Bulls and the Currie Cup with the Blue Bulls, so he is living proof of the successes at the province. As a natural leader, the squad respects him and will follow him into battle,' added Ludeke. 'We are determined to be the championship side this year and Steggies shares that drive and belief. He wants to win the Currie Cup again and there is no doubt in my mind that he will get the whole squad to share that mission and to work together to achieve it.'
Meanwhile, young centres Burger Odendaal and William Small-Smith will get their chance to impress against the Pumas in Nelspruit, while Sampie Mastriet comes in on the wing for the injured Bjorn Basson. SA U20 star Jesse Kriel will be hoping to make an impact off the bench, with Ludeke set to give a number of players a run during the second half of the match.
Blue Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Wiaan Liebenberg, 21 Nardus van der Walt, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Tony Jantjies, 24 JJ Engelbrecht, 25 Ulrich Beyers, 26 Jesse Kriel.
Photo: Getty Images