Flu bug flattens two Bulls
After a week of a freak bout of flu that struck down almost the entire Blue Bulls team, two players have been ruled out of the encounter with the Sharks.
After a week of a freak bout of flu that struck down almost the entire Blue Bulls team, the Pretoria-based side will have to get out of bed for a battle against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The side was severely disrupted this week with 11 players missing training which effectively left the team unable to train for most of the build-up to the weekend.
The team only had one session before the match which left them uncharacteristically unprepared for the match.
It was confirmed that Jan Serfontein and Frik Kirsten will not feature off the bench on Saturday.
Both had to withdraw due to flu.
Serfontein will be replaced by Ulrich Beyers.
Rossouw de Klerk, who replaces Kirsten, will make his first appearance for the Blue Bulls this season should he come off the bench.
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said on Friday that he was hopeful that the players would be 100 percent by Saturday.
However, there will be little sympathy for the young Bulls side, especially after last weekend's loss to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Despite losing most of their star players to the Springbok cause in the Rugby Championship they have won their opening two matches of this year's competition.
An already depleted Sharks side was further unsettled when hooker Craig Burden was called into the Springbok camp for the national side's Test in Argentina on Saturday.
Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter said while the flu-bug was disruptive to their preparations, they could not offer it as an excuse.
"Unfortunately we were looking forward to a great week of preparation, but we came together as a team a week before our first game against Griquas and we had a good game," Potgieter said.
"So it will be important for us to focus on what we have to do. They are a good team and we know what to expect from them."
While it is still early in the competition there is not much separating the sides after two rounds.
The Blue Bulls will know full well that they could not afford to let it slip against the early pace setters in Pretoria.
"They may not have the same players, but the physical onslaught from them will be the same," he said.
"This is a very important game to get back on track and get back to the top-end of the log."
Blue Bulls mentor Pine Pienaar this week said his young team had learnt valuable lessons from last week's loss to the Cheetahs.
He said the team's discipline and the number of turnovers they conceded cost them dearly against the Bloemfontein side.
Blue Bulls - revised: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Clayton Blommetjies, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Rudi Paige, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Date: Saturday, August 25
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cobus Wessels
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee
Additional reporting by SAPA