Bulls hoping to go one better
October 29, 2009
Bryan Habana has proved his fitness and starts for the Blue Bulls © Getty Images
The bear-pit atmosphere of Loftus Versfeld will welcome the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup final on Saturday, with the home fans hoping that their Blue Bulls can go one better than last season's loss to the Sharks in the final.
Naka Drotske's Cheetahs have timed their run to the final perfectly, seeing off the reigning champions in a semi-final thriller at Kings Park to keep alive their recent unbeaten run. The Bulls were also involved in a pulsating contest, defeating a gallant Western Province outfit.
There will be several players out to set down a marker, none more so than Cheetahs fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter.
After a superb tournament so far he is an outside bet for a Springbok tour spot and will also be out to get one over on his new employers, having agreed a deal to shift to the Bulls next season.
The Bulls have plenty of big-game experience in their starting XV, with Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Fourie du Preez all making their 50th appearance in the Currie Cup.
Fresh from winning the Tri-Nations, Morne Steyn, Pierre Spies and Bryan Habana also slot in for the hosts. Habana will be playing his final game for the Bulls at Loftus before joining Western Province.
In the Cheetahs camp, Heinrich Brussow will be show up his Springbok team-mates and cap a whirlwind season. He starts on the openside, with Ashley Johnson in at No.8 after an impressive late burst toward the close of the round robin stage. Hennie Daniller, Lionel Mapoe and Danwel Demas are the back-three as there is no place in the 22 for Jongi Nokwe. Adriaan Strauss will lead the side from hooker.
Blue Bulls: Zane Kirchner; Francois Hougaard, Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Gurthrö Steenkamp, Derick Kuün, Werner Kruger, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield (capt), Deon Stegmann, Dewald Potgieter, Pierre Spies
Replacements: Bandise Maku, Rossouw de Klerk, Danie Rossouw, Pedrie Wannenburg, Heini Adams, Burton Francis, Gerhard van den Heever
Free State Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller; Lionel Mapoe, Corne Uys, Meyer Bosman, Danwel Demas; Jacques-Louis Potgieter, JP Joubert; Wian du Preez, Adriaan Strauss (capt), WP Nel, Nico Breedt, David de Villiers, Heinrich Brussow, Frans Viljoen, Ashley Johnson
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen, Izak van der Westhuizen, Kabamba Floors, Tewis de Bruyn, Louis Strydom, Fabian Juries
Hugh Godwin talks to France Sevens coach Frederic Pomarel about the controversial Olympics loophole that could lead to Steffon Armitage playing for Les Bleus
"If England flounder in the next World Cup the knives will be out - six-year contract or not." Tom Hamilton on the new contract for the England coaches
The All Blacks face their toughest task of the Rugby Championship at Ellis Park this weekend, writes Craig Dowd
With the deadline for World Cup ticket applications now over, Tom May outlines his hopes, gripes and wishes for next year's global gathering