Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup coach, Nollis Marais, on Wednesday named an experienced squad of 49 players for their 2017 Currie Cup campaign, including Springbok scrumhalves Piet van Zyl and Rudy Paige, as well as wing Jamba Ulengo.
Marais named Ruan Steenkamp as captain for the campaign, although he has been ruled out of the opening weekend of the competition due to a hamstring injury.
The squad sees the return of prop Dayan van der Westhuizen and lock Irne Herbst, who just completed their loan stint with the Southern Kings, as well as the inclusion of Blitzbok forward Tim Agaba.
Jan Serfontein, Jesse Kriel, Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane and Handré Pollard have tripartite agreements with the Springboks in place and will not be available for the Currie Cup.
The Vodacom Bulls open their campaign against the Tafel Lager Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday. They then have a bye before taking on the Xerox Golden Lions in their first home game of the tournament.
Marais expressed excitement about the tournament, hoping to go one better than last year, when the Vodacom Blue Bulls lost in the final against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
“It is an exciting time for all of us. Our new Executive of Rugby, John Mitchell, has joined us now and his input will be massive. We will be trying to build our unique style and although we will need time to find our feet in doing so, the focus will be progressing every week and build on that as the season progresses.”
The squad is:
Forwards: Tim Agaba, Clyde Davids, Nic de Jager, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Abongile Nonkontwana, Freddy Ngoza, Roelof Smit, Boom Prinsloo, Ruan Steenkamp, Shaun Adendorff, Marco van Staden, Brian Leitch, Irne Herbst, Ruben van Heerden, Eli Snyman, Conraad van Vuuren, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Jacobie Adriaanse, Neetling Fouche, Matthys Basson, John-Roy Jenkinson, Martin Dreyer, Lizo Gqoboka, Njabulo Gumede, Pierre Schoeman, Edgar Marutlulle, Jaco Visagie, Jan-Henning Campher, Johan Grobbelaar
Backs: Ulrich Beyers, Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Travis Ismaiel, Kafentse Mahlo, Rabs Maxwane, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Adrian Maebane, Johnny Kotze, Dries Swanepoel, Franco Naude, Joshua Stander, Tinus de Beer, Tony Jantjies, Andre Warner, Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl, Rudy Paige, Theo Maree.
The Currie Cup coaching staff and management squad is:
- Head Coach, Forwards and attacking breakdown: Nollis Marais
- Technical Analyst: John-William Meyer
- Attack Coach: John Mitchell
- Backline Coach: David Manuel
- Defence Coach and defensive breakdown: Pine Pienaar
- Scrum Coach: Gary Botha
- Team Doctor: Dr Herman Rossouw
- Physiotherapists: Wernich Smit and Pieter du Plessis
- Team Manager: Tim Dlulane
- Kit Master: Elias Bennet
- Strength and Conditioning: Henri-Charl Terblanche, Shaun du Toit
The fixtures are:
Sat 22 July: Tafel Lager Griquas (Kimberley)
Sat 5 August: Xerox Golden Lions (Pretoria)
Wed 9 August: Cell C Sharks (Pretoria)
Sat 12 August: DHL Western Province (Cape Town)
Sat 19 August: Toyota Free State (Pretoria)
Fri 25 August: Steval Pumas (Nelspruit)
Fri 1 September: Tafel Lager Griquas (Pretoria)
Sat 16 September: Xerox Golden Lions (Johannesburg)
Sat 23 September: Cell C Sharks (Durban)
Sun 1 October: DHL Western Province (Pretoria)
Fri 6 October: Toyota Free State (Bloemfontein)
Fri 13 October: Steval Pumas (Pretoria)
Sat 21 October (Semifinals)
Sat 28 October: Final