Basson at fullback for Blue Bulls
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Try-scoring ace Bjorn Basson will start at fullback for the Blue Bulls when they take on Western Province in the opening round of the Currie Cup Premier Division on Friday.
Basson, who broke the Currie Cup record for tries in a season while playing on the wing, will form a potent back three with Jade Stighling and Jamba Ulengo, himself the leading try-scorer in the competition in 2015.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named an experienced side, with only Eli Snyman new to the current squad. The Junior Springbok will making his first appearance in the senior competition from the bench.
"We need to start well and I am happy with the way we prepared," Marais said. "WP have a formidable team though and will travel here with lots of confidence. I am expecting a solid start from our guys though. We have worked on some issues that dogged the team earlier in the season and will be looking at eliminating them."
Marais is expecting good attacking play from his new back three.
"They all know how to get to the tryline, so the challenge for us will be to make sure they have the space to attack. And of course, enough ball to run with."
Blue Bulls captain, Arno Botha, is keen for the tournament to kick-off.
"The Currie Cup proper does make the heart pumps just a little faster. We are keen to get the season underway and continue with the good things we have done this year.
"We are hoping for a good crowd as well, as they do help us play better. The fans have been patient, but it is time for us to seriously challenge for the Currie Cup again. We owe it to them and to ourselves."
Blue Bulls: 15 Bjorn Basson, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Entienne Swanepoel, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 Eli Snyman, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Dan Kriel.
Date: Friday, August 5
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.10 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Vusi Msibi, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Johan Greeff