Shabangu boost for Pumas
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Pumas have been boosted by the return of their key players ahead Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
Flank Brian Shabangu and outside centre Hennie Skorbinski will return to the Pumas starting line-up.
Shabangu will start at No.6 for the first time in more than a month, after recovering from a rib injury. He replaces Marnus Schoeman, who drops out of the playing squad.
"Marnus is being given a rest this week to get back some confidence," said Pumas coach Marthinus Mentz.
"But we are really happy to have Brian back as he was in good form before his injury and brings a lot of experience, energy and physicality to his position.”
Skorbinski has recovered from a hamstring strain to take up his usual starting berth in place of Tyler Fisher who is currently serving a one-match ban for a red card he picked up when filling in at outside-centre against Boland last Friday.
Marlou van Niekerk has been favoured at inside centre ahead of the benched Leighton van Wyk, while Lambert Groenewald comes in at right flank for Nardus van der Walt, who is out for the rest of the season with a ruptured ACL.
Jannie Stander switches from left lock to right lock, with Wiehan Hay partnering him in the second row.
"The guys are really hungry for a win. We've worked extremely hard and owe it to ourselves and our supporters," Mentz explained.
"The Bulls are always wary of us at Mbombela Stadium because we’ve beaten them here several times.
"It’s going to be a hard and physical task but every time we play the Bulls it automatically acts as motivation to up our game.
The Pumas have suffered four losses in a row and currently sit in eighth place on the Currie Cup log with five bonus points ahead of the EP Kings.
Pumas: 15 Williams Devon, 14 Bernardo Botha, 13 Hennie Skorbinski, 12 Marlou van Niekerk, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Emile Temperman, 8 Renaldo Bothma (captain), 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Frank Herne, 1 De Jay Terblanche.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Louis Albertse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Leighton Van Wyk, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell.
Date: Saturday, September 10
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Marnus Meiring
TMO: Willie Vos