Gio Aplon and Stefan Basson could ignite the North v South derby at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow.
While the lustre of the most famous clash in South African domestic rugby has been dulled somewhat by the absence of the Springboks, it is time for the new generation to make its mark.
And the two No 15â€™s have already set the scene on fire with some exciting displays this year, most notably Aplonâ€™s effort in a losing cause against the Sharks at Newlands last weekend.
Between them, Western Province (32 wins) and the Blue Bulls (21 wins) have two and a half times as many Absa Currie Cup titles as the rest of the country (20) put together. And when these two giants clash it is usually one of the most anticipated matches of the season. But not anymore.
This is the view of former Blue Bulls and Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha, who also believes it is a game the Bulls will win because of home ground advantage. “So much is changing in our game that some of the traditional stuff is not as important as it once was,” Botha told keo.co.za.
“But I believe in Gio Aplon and Stefan Basson we have two very exciting talents that could bring the game alive. Sometimes without the Boks, the game can be a bit flat, but I think those two will spice things up.”
“They have both been very impressive lately and they bring their dynamic Sevens skills to the party. On Saturday they could be key to the outcome if they can join the line at pace. I think without the Boks, the packs are fairly evenly matched so it will take a piece of brilliance to break through.”
“And those two fullbacks have what it takes to turn a game upside down. It is something that Brent Russell has become renowned for.”
The Bulls are second on the log (with 9 points), while Province have six points after losing in the dying minutes to the Sharks last Saturday.
The match kicks-off at 5pm (SA time).
Blue Bulls: 15. Stefan Basson, 14. John Mametsa, 13. JP Nel, 12. Frikkie Welsh (captain), 11. Marius Delport, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Heini Adams; 8. Pedrie Wannenburg, 7. Tim Dlulane, 6. Warren Brosnihan, 5. Francois van Schouwenburg, 4. Adriaan Fondse, 3. Rayno Gerber, 2. Gary Botha, 1. Wessel Roux.
Replacements: 16. Kobus van der Walt, 17. Jaco Engels, 18. Hottie Louw, 19. Hilton Lobberts, 20. Johannes Powell, 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22. Riaan van der Bergh
Team: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Johan Pietersen, 13. Corne Uys, 12. Peter Grant, 11. Egon Seconds, 10. Naas Olivier, 9. Bolla Conradie; 8. Robbie Diack, 7. Justin Melck, 6. Luke Watson (captain), 5. Gerrie Britz, 4. Francois van der Merwe, 3. Brock Harris, 2. Schalk Brits, 1. JD Moller.
Replacements: 16. Huia Edmonds, 17. Schalk Ferreira, 18. Rob Linde, 19. Pieter Louw, 20. Paul Delport, 21. Sarel Potgieter, 22. Chumani Booi.
By Andrew Hollely