The Limpopo Blue Bulls went into camp at Hoerskool Ben Vorster in Tzaneen on Monday confident that they will give a good account of themselves at Craven Week.
Head coach Andre Hay says their warm-up games went well, and everyone has come through unscathed.
‘We always play a pre-season practice game against the Blue Bulls, our mother union and, although we didn’t keep a proper score in the game, it was close – we went down by two tries to two.’
Following that, the Limpopo side met the Valke twice. They beat them 34-33 in Polokwane and then showed improvement in beating them 31-25 when they met them again at the Bondedag in Rustenburg.
‘We have a well-balanced side,’ Hay told keo.co.za. ‘We have a big pack of forwards and some quick backs. Our scrumhalf, Lukas Van Zyl, is equally comfortable at scrumhalf and flyhalf and he showed at the Bondedag that he has a bright future in the game.
‘One of the exciting developments this year is the quality of our players of colour,’ Hay said. ‘The work being done in our schools is paying off and I don’t think we can call any of them quota players.’
Limpopo meet Boland in their opening encounter at the Craven and Hay says they are going to have to be wide awake against the Boland backs.
‘They always have some skilful, nippy backs and we have to make sure that we win the collisions and dominate up front if we want to beat them.’
The Limpopo Blue Bulls captain is Hoerskool Pietersburg’s eighthman LC van Tonder. He has a solid pedigree, having represented the province at U13 and U16 level as well. He was selected for the Academy Week side last year, but had to withdraw because of injury.
‘We are all looking forward to the week,’ he said. ‘The team spirit is fantastic and we have all been working hard on our individual training programmes, and in the camp.’
Van Tonder is a fanatic Blue Bulls fan and would love to be like Pierre Spies one day. ‘Apart from his obvious brilliance as a player, he is a committed Christian and not afraid to show it. I really admire that,’ he said.
As for his own future, Van Tonder fully intends carrying on with rugby. ‘I am hoping to have a good Craven Week and maybe some bursary offers will flow from that.’
Limpopo Blue Bulls – 15 Kefentse Mahlo (Ben Vorster), 14 Maphu Tadolo (Ben Vorster), 13 Marco Mason (Piet Potgieter), 12 Danie Ludick (Pietersburg), 11 Tohvi Nefale (Ben Vorster), 10 Harold Vorster (Frans du Toit), 9 Lukas Van Zyl (Ben Vorster), 8 LC Van Tonder (Pietersburg), 7 Roy-Ramon Auret (Ben Vorster), 6 Madala Ndinisa (Ben Vorster), 5 Lyvette Shilwambana (Ben Vorster), 4 Jannie Stander (Frans du Toit), 3 Dewald Els (Ben Vorster), 2 Mauritz Senekal (Hans Strijdom), 1 Hencus van Wyk (Nylstroom)
Subs: 16 Emannuel Semeno (Pietersburg), 17 Hermanus Swart (Hans Strijdom), 18 Louis Uys (Pietersburg), 19, Kiewiet Coetzee (Pietersburg), 20 Cor Rautenbach (Hans Strijdom), 21 Juan Smit (Ben Vorster), 22 Don Mlondobozi (Ben Vorster)
By Gauteng correspondent