The Vodacom Blue Bulls team to play the Cell C Sharks in the semi final of the Currie Cup on Saturday will only be finalised pending a fitness test on lock, Aston Fortuin, but will see the return of Jannes Kirsten to the match day squad.
Fortuin picked up an injury against the Steval Pumas in last Friday’s final Currie Cup league encounter and is in a race against time to make the trip to Durban.
If he is not fit, Jannes Kirsten, who recently returned to full match fitness, will start at lock. If Fortuin is passed fit, Kirsten will be amongst the replacements.
Vodacom Blue Bulls head coach, John Mitchell, kept the same starting team that played against the Steval Pumas (pending Fortuin’s fitness), but added a fit-again Lizo Gqoboka to the bench. Duncan Matthews is also back and will start off the bench.
Mitchell was relaxed about the trip to Durban, despite the stakes.
“We are the clear underdogs for this and in a way, it does relieve some of the pressure. We know we are facing the team that dominated the tournament this season, on their home turf, so it will be a huge challenge and occasion. Having said that, one of our main objectives this year was to look inwards, to our own objectives and processes and make sure we execute on those. So the real challenge will not be coming from the opponents, but from within.”
Mitchell feels his team was in a win-win situation.
“We started this journey with the end objective being that of a winning team. Nothing has changed and we are definitely not going down to Durban to concede. We were in a deep hole at the start of the competition and a couple of weeks later it is now in our hands to win the Currie Cup. That is massive progress. Whether we have progressed enough in our belief and execution will be proved on Saturday.”
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, described the week as the calm before the storm.
“We trained well, with a clear and precise plan of what we want to achieve this weekend. Our last match against them was played in horrible conditions, but we did some good things back then. You cannot really take anything out of that day, due to the conditions, but we are certainly starting to hit the straps in our way forward. I think we are far enough down the road to offer a very, very competitive match.”
The Vodacom Blue Bulls team (with Currie Cup caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (25, 65), Travis Ismaiel (24, 60), Burger Odendaal (c; 41, 50), JT Jackson (11, 12), Johnny Kotze (32, 30), Marnitz Boshoff (52, 449), Ivan van Zyl (18, 20), Nic de Jager (19, 15), Tim Agaba (27, 20), Marco van Staden (5, 5), Aston Fortuin (6, 5)/Jannes Kirsten (19, 10), Ruben van Heerden (12, 15), Conraad van Vuuren (9, 0), Edgar Marutlulle (52, 45), Pierre Schoeman (23, 5).
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar (9, 15), Lizo Gqoboka (66, 25) Jannes Kirsten (19/10)/ Eli Snyman (1, 0), Jano Venter (8, 0), Piet van Zyl (52, 60), Tony Jantjies (8, 61), Duncan Matthews (7, 15).
• John-Roy Jenkinson and Eli Snyman are on standby.
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Referees: Stuart Berry & Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Christie du Preez