Lood de Jager, appointed captain of the Bulls for the Super Rugby series but injured in the second match against the Jaguares, will make a welcome return to competitive rugby on Saturday when the Blue Bulls play Western Province at Newlands in the first round of the Currie Cup Premier Division.
De Jager last played in February before picking up a shoulder injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the Super Rugby competition and his return will boost the chances of coach Pote Human’s charges at Newlands.
It is at the same time good news for Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus as he plans his Rugby Championship campaign to find the big man fit enough for match action.
♦ Human named a squad full of familiar faces following Super Rugby, with flanker Wian Vosloo the only newcomer to Bulls rugby, and is one of five players making their Currie Cup debut for the Blue Bulls.
De Jager, Cornal Hendricks, Rosko Specman and prop Wiehahn Herbst have all player Super Rugby for the Bulls.
Vosloo, 24, played for the Sharks in 2018
Jean Droste, who played age group rugby for the Blue Bulls before a couple of seasons with the Sharks, is also back in Pretoria and will play off the bench.
♦ Human said they are expecting a massive match against their Cape Town opponents.
“What a way to start this competition – against Province in Cape Town. It does not come tougher than this,” Human said.
The two sides last met in the 2018 semi-final, also at Newlands, with WP squeaking through after a plethora of questionable penalties against the Light Blues.
The coach said De Jager’s return to action will be a real boost for their chances.
“Lood played very well before his injury and worked really hard to get back onto the field. I am sure he is ready to give it a good go. We have some form players in the team at the moment but playing at Newlands against such a formidable team is always a tough start,” Human said.
Blue Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said they will need to make every opportunity count.
“With only one round in this year’s competition, we need to take every chance that comes our way. I expect this year’s Currie Cup to be very, very competitive and every result will be crucial. We need to start well and keep up the pressure in order to have a chance this weekend,” Odendaal said.
Blue Bulls –
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (captain), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager, Ruan Nortjé, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Roelof Smit, Ivan van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff, Dylan Sage.