Ross leads rookie Bulls

Wed, 07 Aug 2013 10:28
Large jono ross bulls Large tony jantjies bulls Large paul willemse bulls Large callie visagie bulls

No.8 Jono Ross has been named to captain the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup opener against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.

No.8 Jono Ross has been named to captain the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup opener against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.

Ross will lead a team that features four Currie Cup rookies in the team. He made his debut in the Currie Cup competition in 2011 against Griquas and made one further appearance that season.

Last year he only featured in the Vodacom Cup and in 2013 was called into the Bulls Super Rugby side for their match against the Kings.

The uncapped players in the starting XV are left wing Travis Ismaiel, flyhalf Tony Jantjies (brother of Springbok Elton Jantjies), as well as flanks Wiaan Liebenberg and Jacques du Plessis.

Ismaiel, Jantjies and Liebenberg were members of the South African team that won the IRB Junior World Championship at this venue just under a year ago, whilst 2013 Baby Bok Du Plessis made his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls at Newlands a month ago.

Paul Willemse, Callie Visagie (both Golden Lions), Waylon Murray (EP Kings) and Marcell van der Merwe (Free State) will make their Currie Cup debuts for the Blue Bulls, but have played for other teams in this competition earlier in their careers.

Only five players – Francois Venter, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Frik Kirsten, Willie Wepener and Morné Mellett remain from the team that played in the Blue Bulls last Currie Cup match in 2012 - the semifinal against the Sharks in Durban.

"We are excited about the potential of our team," coach Pine Pienaar said.

"We do have a lot of younger players and Newlands is a severe test to even an experienced player, but if ever there was a time to justify the structures and depth at the union, this it is.

"We have a lot of faith in our structures and the younger players have all proved themselves.

"There is also a good core of experience, so we are looking forward to a good Currie Cup season.

"To start away against the defending champions is a very tough ask, but if we want to reach the top, we must embrace and accept all challenges," Pienaar added.

The other significant feature of this team is the absence of seasoned Bok props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger.

Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellet.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Marcell van der Merwe, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.

Date: Saturday, August 10
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Lusanda Jam, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Deon van Blommestein

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Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26