Still no Matfield for Bulls

Wed, 29 Jan 2014 10:59
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There was no sign of Victor Matfield when Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named two teams to take on the Golden Lions and the Stormers.

There was no sign of Victor Matfield when Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named two teams to take on the Golden Lions and the Stormers at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.

Media speculation in recent weeks have been rife with suggestions that the 2007 World Cup-winning lock would return to the playing field at the ripe age of 36 - given that he has been training with the Bulls since last year.

The Bulls and Matfield have so far declined to comment and at Wednesday's media briefing Ludeke said  "nothing has been finalised".

Despite Ludeke stopping short of confirming the veteran's return, sources said it is "95 percent certain" he will feature for the three-time Super Rugby champions this year.

The coach included recent recruits Piet van Zyl (Cheetahs) and Jacques-Louis Potgieter (France), in the team that will face the Lions' Vodacom Cup side in the early match of the day, but made it clear that not much must be read into his selections for these two warm-up matches.

"To have almost everyone fit and able ahead of our first match is great and we need to thank our medical staff for that," Ludeke said.

"It does give the coaching staff the luxury of trying different combinations and that is exactly what we will be looking for in Polokwane," he added.

"I would like to see both teams playing to our patterns, as this will make it easier to decide which players will suit our style best ahead of the season opener next month.

"To be successful in Super Rugby, you need a squad though, so I will be looking at both matches with equal interest," the coach said.

"The players understand the squad principle and all is keen to contribute towards achieving our goal of winning the 2014 tournament."

Ludeke, who grew up in Polokwane, had a luxury of a fit squad and bar prop Morné Mellett, could name particular combinations for the matches against the Stormers and the Golden Lions Vodacom Cup teams.

He is also pleased to be back in his old stomping ground.

"We appreciate the effort off everyone involved in bringing the game to Polokwane, as we try to bring the team to our fans where possible. One can expect early season jitters, but hopefully we can give the spectators good value for their money."

Teams:

Blue Bulls (to play the Golden Lions): 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Ulrich Beyers, 11 Jesse Kriel, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements - from: Bandise Maku, Juan Schoeman, Hencus van Wyk, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Wiaan Liebenberg, Rudi Paige, Tian Schoeman, Waylon Murray, Ryan Nell, Jacques-Louis Potgieter.

Date: Saturday, February 1
Venue: Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden

Bulls (to play the Stormers): 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements - from: Bandise Maku, Marcel van der Merwe, Hencus van Wyk, Jono Ross, Rudi Paige, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers, Travis Ismaiel.

Date: Saturday, February 1
Venue: Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe

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