Outside back Jamba Ulengo has been declared fit and will be back in the Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup starting team that takes on the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday.
Ulengo was a regular for the 2016 Currie Cup finalists and will boost the squad with his finishing abilities. He scored seven tries in ten appearances last year and comes in for Kefenste Mahlo from the side that beat the Xerox Golden Lions on Saturday.
Another new face in the backline will be that of fullback, Manie Libbok. He replaces Warrick Gelant, who received a call-up to the Springboks squad. Like Gelant, Libbok hails from Outeniqua High School in George and he will make his Currie Cup debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Adding to the player management challenges of two games this week, Marais has also opted to rest Piet van Zyl, handing a start to Andre Warner at scrumhalf. Warner moves from the bench, where Ivan van Zyl will slots in.
Amongst the forwards, Jaco Visagie is fit-again and will start on the bench. Coach Nollis Marais also recalled a fit-again Dries Swanepoel to the bench. Swanepoel played in eight matches last season and will add good experience on the bench.
“We have a short turn-around time, having played on Saturday, but we knew about this from a while back. So we planned our training accordingly,” Marais said.
“The two wins in two starts was good, but in this tough competition, results from one week will not guarantee anything in the next match, it is just too competitive. Facing the Sharks will be a massive challenge for us and we need to respond accordingly.”
Captain Boom Prinsloo agrees. “We have seen how clinical the Sharks can be. They have played some great rugby already and comes here with a good deal of momentum. We need to break that rhythm and make sure we dictate the pace, intensity and field position. We are still a work in progress, but it can be done.”
The team to play the Cell C Sharks is: Manie Libbok (0, 0), Travis Ismaiel (22, 50), Franco Naude (2, 0), Burger Odendaal (33, 25), Jamba Ulengo (22, 90), Tony Jantjies (1, 10), Andre Warner (10, 5), Nic de Jager (9, 10), Jannes Kirsten (13, 10), Boom Prinsloo (c, 39, 65), Ruben van Heerden (2, 5), Irné Herbst (3, 0), John-Roy Jenkinson (36 15), Jan Henning Campher (2, 0), Pierre Schoeman (15, 5). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (19, 5), Matthys Basson (1, 0), Abongile Nonkontwana (2, 5), Shaun Adendorff (7, 10), Ivan van Zyl (11, 5), JT Jackson (2, 2), Dries Swanepoel (19, 20).