Bulls “forced” to make changes

Hi all,

In my post prior to the Bulls’ opening game I said that the team selection was a bit conservative in my view. However the 22 guys that made the cut did their job and put four points in the bag.

Bulls team for Saturday against the Force:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Mornè Mellett

Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouchè , 22 Jan Serfontein

With injuries to Stegman, Potgieter and JJ Engelbrect the Bulls management has been forced to make some changes and exciting changes they are.

Sampie Mastriet comes in for Engelbrecht and in turn, Mapoe moves to outside centre and Olivier moves to inside centre. Sampie is an exciting player with LOTS of gas and I hope he gets more opportunities than Mapoe did on Friday night. Mapoe will be closer to the action this time around and I hope he can display some of his running and stepping skills that we know he possesses. With Olivier at 12 we can expect the same tried and tested combination between Steyn and Olivier, I just pray that Olivier makes some passes to the exciting players on his outside. I wonder if there is any correlation between Wynand’s reluctantcy to pass and his playing in the Japan league. Surely there, against much weaker and smaller opposition, Wynand was able to run, break tackles and gain big chunks of ground without ever considering to make a pass. If this is the case the Bulls management should pull him aside and rectify it, or pick someone that is willing to distribute. Just a thought…..

In the loose trio, Potgieter and Stegman were injured and they will be replaced with Arno Botha (7) and Jacques Potgieter (6) respectively. The fact that the Bulls won’t have an out and out fetcher does not concern me a great deal especially against a Force team that no longer have David Pocock playing for them. What excites me, however, is that in Spies and Potgieter they have two very fast and very strong runners and Arno Botha could be the link that puts these boys into some space/on the front foot. On Friday night Arno was everywhere and provided good support when Stegman and/or Spies broke some tackles.

Every time Dewaldt Potgieter comes back I hope that he gets through his first game, but he has rotten luck when it comes to injuries. At one point in his career he was being touted as a possible Bok captain but sadly the numerous injuries have curtailed his progress.

Having said all of that, I am EXTREMELY happy to see young Serfontein on the bench. The kid has buckets of talent and promises to be a very exciting player. I hope he gets an opportunity to strut his stuff, and begins to stake a claim for a starting position.

I think the Bulls have the squad to go all the way, but they might just fall short due to some inexperience in some positions. I mean, losing to Bok flanks and being able to replace them with another two Bok flanks shows good depth. Player rotation and morale management (of the players that warm the bench or don’t make the 22) will be crucial though.

I am hoping a for a win with four tries for the bonus point. Even if th win is only by 1……….

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