Kriel, Du Plessis to return to Newlands in Under-21 colours
Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup semi-finalists Jesse Kriel, Jacques du Plessis and Nico Janse van Rensburg will return to DHL Newlands this weekend as members of the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-21 team that will face DHL Western Province in the final of the Absa Currie Cup Under-21 Provincial Championship.
The trio formed part of the Blue Bulls team that lost out 31-24 to WP in the semi-finals of the Currie Cup and their inclusion in the Under-21 team will boost the junior side's assault on the trophy won by WP in 2013.
Kriel will start at centre and Du Plessis at flank, while Janse van Rensburg will play off the bench.
Another replacement, Roelof Smit, played for the Vodacom Bulls in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition earlier this year, while flyhalf Joshua Stander also represented the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.
Coach Nollis Marais named former Junior Springboks captain, Ruan Steenkamp, to lead the team into battle at DHL Newlands.
The Blue Bulls last weekend won their semi-final against the Xerox Golden Lions at Loftus Versfeld, while WP, who topped the log standings after regular play, defeated the Toyota Free State in Cape Town.
"We are up against it, no doubt," Marais said.
"The Province team will have home ground advantage and played some very good rugby this year. Our aim pre-season was to win the final, so we can justify all the hard work and miles put in by giving it our best shot. The experience of Jesse, Jacques and Janse will come in handy and I am keen to see their impact on our effort. It will be a tough assignment, but I honestly believe we can win this."
The team to play WP Under-21 at 14h00 is:
Duncan Matthews, Kefentse Mahlo, Jesse Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Jade Stighling, Joshua Stander, Carlo Engelbrecht, Jannes Kirsten, Jacques du Plessis, Ruan Steenkamp (c), Marvin Orie, Irne Herbst, Neethling Fouche, Jan Enslin, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Arno van Wyk, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Nico Janse van Rensburg, Roelof Smit, Marquit September, Kobus Marais, Dan Kriel.
• Kobus Marais (138 points) is the leading points’ scorer in the competition, followed by WP’s Robert du Preez (137). Joshua Stander scored 98 points and is fourth on the overall list.
• Ruan Steenkamp (9) is the leading try scorer for the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-21.
Results in 2014:
17 October Blue Bulls 23, Golden Lions 19 (Pretoria) - semi-finals
10 October Border 7, Blue Bulls 123 (East London)
03 October Sharks 10, Blue Bulls 31(Durban)
26 September Free State 13, Blue Bulls 31 (Bloemfontein)
20 September Leopards 10, Blue Bulls 37 (Potch)
06 September Blue Bulls 25, Golden Lions 31 (Pretoria)
30 August Blue Bulls 44, WP 30 (Pretoria)
23 August Blue Bulls 38, Leopards 20 (Pretoria)
16 August WP 28, Blue Bulls 21 (Cape Town)
09 August Golden Lions 41, Blue Bulls 30 (Johannesburg)
01 August Blue Bulls 24, Free State 10 (Pretoria)
19 July Blue Bulls 53, Sharks 25 (Pretoria)
11 July Blue Bulls 143, Border 0 (Pretoria)