Hougaard benched by Bulls
Hougaard benched by BullsSHARE
Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar named all his returning Springboks in the matchday 22 for Saturday's crucial Currie Cup clash against the Lions in Johannesburg.
The Blue Bulls need to win at Coca-Cola Park, most probably with a bonus point, in order to qualify for an away semifinal spot.
In the only surprise, Pienaar retained Jano Vermaak, a Bok squad member who saw no game time in the just completed international season, ahead of Bok utility Francois Hougaard.
Hougaard, who started as the Boks' first-choice scrumhalf and was then shifted to the wing, was in the starting XV in all nine South Africa's Tests this year.
However, the 24-year-old utility back will play off the bench against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Zane Kirchner, Morné Steyn, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger and Hougaard will all play in the competition for the first time this year.
Kirchner will start at fullback, Steyn will play at flyhalf and Kruger and Van der Merwe will be the locks.
With Hougaard on the bench Pienaar have the option of naming five forwards on the bench.
Arno Botha, who joined the Boks squad last week but did not make the matchday 22, and missed the win over Western Province, is back at No.8 and will be joined by Jacques Potgieter, who returns from injury after he played for the Blue Bulls in a solitary start three weeks ago.
Pienaar said he was very pleased with his selection options, but emphasized that the returning players do not guarantee success against the defending champions on their home turf.
"All the teams will use their returning Springboks this weekend, so we are not in a unique or fortunate position," Pienaar said.
"We are privileged though to have guys back who really care about the daisy, the team and each other.
"We had no problem with the returning players slotting back in and I really look forward to the weekend.
"It is no secret that we are in dire straits in the competition, but of ever there was players I would have nominated to help, I have just named them the team," the coach said.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandré Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Dean Greyling.
Date: Saturday, October 13
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff