Basson back for Bulls
Basson back for BullsSHARE
Springbok wing Bjorn Basson has been included in the Blue Bulls' starting line-up for their clash with Western Province in Pretoria on Friday.
The prolific try-scorer has fully recovered from the effects of an operation following a tear to his intestines in the Super Rugby play-off match with the Crusaders back in May and he replaces Sampie Mastriet on the left wing.
Basson is the record holder for tries in a Currie Cup season and his finishing ability will be welcomed by the Blue Bulls, who are with their backs against the wall in this year's competition.
"It certainly is good to know Bjorn is fit and ready to go. He is a world class player and we will try to get the ball in his hands," said Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar.
The late call-up of Arno Botha to the Springboks squad again results in a new loose trio combination for the WP match.
Former Baby Bok Jean Cook slots in at flank to replace Botha, while Dean Greyling has been bracketed with Mornè Mellett at loosehead prop in the only other change to the team that lost 13-12 to the Sharks in Durban last week.
Greyling has just returned from a two week suspension picked up for his charge on Richie McCaw while playing for the Springboks in Dunedin against the All Blacks. A final call on who will start in the No.1 jersey will be made later in the week.
Bok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle also makes a welcome return to the side after recovering from a knee injury and will play off the bench for his first Currie Cup action of the year.
Pienaar remains positive about his side's chances of sneaking into the semifinals, but added that it would take a big effort for his team to down Province.
"We are not out of the competition yet and that is a positive for us. We realise though that only our very best efforts over the last two weeks will get us into a possible play-off spot and that is what I am expecting of the team – their very best," Pienaar said.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouchè, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett/Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjè, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Date: Friday, October 5
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.10, 17.10 GMT
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Tiaan Jonker, Pieter de Villiers
TMO: JC Fortuin