Vodacom Bulls coach, Nollis Marais named FNB Tuks winger, Sibahle Maxwane, on the wing for the team’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday to hand the 21-year old his team and tournament debut, whilst also making four changes in total to his backline.
Maxwane replaces injured Jamba Ulengo, while Jan Serfontein and Francois Brummer will earn starts and Jesse Kriel will play at fullback.
Kriel comes in for Warrick Gelant, who moves the bench to take over from Serfontein who moves in Kriel’s place at centre. Brummer takes over from Tian Schoeman.
In the only change in the pack, Lood de Jager moves from the bench into the engine room in place of suspended RG Snyman.
Marais also named uncapped Abongile Nonkontwana on the bench, with the former Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-21 captain taking over the vacancy left by De Jager.
“We had three debutants last weekend and this weekend two more new faces will play for the Vodacom Bulls for the first time in what is already a fairly young team,” Marais said.
“I have no doubt in their abilities, as I have always believed that age should not impact on selection. Rabs (Sibahle) showed great form and potential for Tuks and was named in the Varsity Cup Dream Team, so that form was widely acknowledged. He continued with that in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, scoring a hat-trick in one of the matches, so I am excited to see him perform,” Marais said of the former Border Craven Week, DHL Western Province and SA Rugby Sevens Academy player.
“Abongile came through the ranks and his breakthrough into Super Rugby always was a matter of when rather than if. He will also perform well.”
The coach is wary of the Emirates Lions.
“Look, they are our form team, no doubt. We have had epic battles with them and this is a big derby match, so the guys will be up for it.”
Vodacom Bulls captain, Hanro Liebenberg, said they are excited about the match.
“We have a chance to compare ourselves against the leading South African team in the competition. That is a nice challenge. The fact that it is a Gauteng derby also makes it a nice one for the fans. We owe our fans a good show and where better to do that than in Johannesburg against the Lions.”
The team (with Super Rugby caps and points) is: Jesse Kriel (40, 20), Jade Stighling (1, 0), Jan Serfontein (55, 80), Burger Odendaal (28, 15), Sibahle Maxwane (0,0), Francois Brummer (22, 134), Rudy Paige (43, 5), Hanro Liebenberg (16, 15; c), Jannes Kirsten (23, 10), Ruan Steenkamp (6, 0), Lood de Jager (48), Jason Jenkins (23, 15), Trevor Nyakane (79), Jaco Visagie (15) Lizo Gqoboka (21, 5). Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle (30, 20), Pierre Schoeman (19, 5), Conraad van Vuuren (1, 0), Abongile Nonkontwana (0, 0), Nic de Jager (14, 5), Ivan van Zyl (4, 0), Tony Jantjies (1, 0), Warrick Gelant (14, 10).