The Blue Bulls had their pre-Craven Week warm-up programme badly disrupted by injuries, but everyone is fit now.
After beating the Limpopo Blue Bulls 52-7 in their opening warm-up game, the Bulls had seven injured players out for the 43-43 draw with the Pumas, and five out in the 18-3 loss to the Lions at the Bondedag last week.
‘But we have had a good camp, and everyone has come through fine,’ Bulls coach Pieter Van Wyk told keo.co.za. ‘We are giving the players the weekend off and on the 23rd we move into the Harmony Sports Academy in Virginia, where we will stay until the week begins.’
Van Wyk said he is very happy with the make-up of the side.
‘We have an equal number of players from Affies and Waterkloof, which helps with the combinations in the side, and the players from other schools who have come in have made the step-up well.’
The Bulls meet Eastern Province on the first day of Craven Week and Van Wyk is expecting a tough game.
‘EP are traditionally one of the powerhouses at Craven Week and they have the advantage that their players of colour are usually all selected on merit,’ he said. ‘So no matter which combination they field, they are going to be tough opponents.’
The selection of a starting line-up on day one of the week is always one of the greatest challenges for upcountry coaches, according to Van Wyk.
‘All 22 players must play a full game in your first two matches, with no tactical substitutions allowed,’ he explained, ‘and there must be five players of colour on the field on the one day, and four on the other.
‘That makes selection tricky because, should you win on day one, your next game is always a step up, so you cannot field too many first-choice players on day one and then all the reserves on day two.’
Van Wyk is hoping for a good showing against EP, with a possible game against the Lions or Western Province in their second outing.
‘Win that one, and we will be in line for a good game on the final day.’
Blue Bulls – 15 Sean Robinson (Waterkloof), 14 Richmond Collins (Pretoria Boys), 13 Brink Botha (Affies), 12 Thys Smit (Waterkloof), 14 Leroy Africa (St Alban’s) , 10 Tony Jantjies (Menlo Park), 9 Poerie van Rooyean (Affies), 8 Nardus van der Walt (Affies), 7 Katlego Maake (Pretoria Boys), 6 De Wet Meyer (Waterkloof), 5 Schalk van Heerden (Affies), 4 Gerbrand Grobler (Affies), 3 Luan de Bruin (Affies), 2 Justin van Wyk (Menlo Park), 1 Justin Forwood (Waterkloof)
Subs: 16 Timothy Nhlapo, (Zwartkops), 17 Johan Rautenbach (Affies), 18 Darren Fielies (Waterkloof), 19 Jako Coetzee (Eldoraigne), 20 Francois Tredoux (Waterkloof), 21 Patrick Maponya (Waterkloof), 22 Xolani Nkosi (Hendrik Verwoerd)
By Gauteng correspondent