Springbok prop, Lizo Gqoboka, will return to lead the Vodacom Bulls in their crucial Carling Currie Cup semifinal clash against the Windhoek Draught Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
Vodacom Bulls head coach, Gert Smal, has bolstered his side for the domestic playoff game. In addition to the inclusion of the influential Gqoboka, a trio that was part of the traveling Vodacom United Rugby Championship squad that traveled to Ireland to face Leinster in the cross-hemisphere semifinal last week has also been added. This includes the experienced Marco Jansen van Vuren and the youthful and talented forward duo of Reinhardt Ludwig and Jan-Hendrik Wessels.
Following the inclusion of Jansen van Vuren, who will earn a starting berth at inside centre, Vodacom Bulls vice-captain, Stedman Gans, will make a shift to the wing this week.
The home side’s bench has also been strengthened with Dylan Smith providing prop cover and nippy scrumhalf Bernard van der Linde available to add firepower in the latter stages of the game.
The Vodacom Bulls expect a huge challenge from a motivated Windhoek Draught Griquas side in the clash as both sides will be eager to book a spot in the final against the winner of the second semifinal between the Toyota Cheetahs and Airlink Pumas.
“It has been a highly competitive season of Carling Currie Cup with no easy games. It now gets even tougher in the knockout stages, and we are expecting what could potentially be the toughest match so far when we go up against the Windhoek Draught Griquas on Friday,” said head coach, Smal, ahead of the game.
“Windhoek Draught Griquas are always motivated when they visit Loftus, and they will even be hungrier now that they are a step closer to the final. We have had to work hard this week following the defeat to the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend. We will need an improved performance. We hope to give our supporters something to smile about in what is a big weekend for the Vodacom Bulls.”
The match kicks off at 19h00 on Friday and will be televised on SuperSport.
The Vodacom Bulls team to face Windhoek Draught Griquas is:
STARTERS (15-1): Richard Kriel (Tuine), Tharquinn Manuel (UP Tuks), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria), Stedman Gans (Northam Rhinos), Juan Mostert (Harlequin), Keagan Johannes (UP Tuks), Muller Uys (UP Tuks), Ruan Delport (Betway Centurion), Jaco Labuschagne (Pretoria), Reinhardt Ludwig (UP Tuks), Raynard Roets (UP Tuks), Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Pretoria), Lizo Gqoboka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle).
IMPACT (16-23): Sidney Tobias (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Dylan Smith (Tuine), Francois Klopper (UP Tuks), Willie Potgieter (Betway Centurion), Stephan Smit (UP Tuks), Bernard van der Linde (UP Tuks), Niel Beukes (Pretoria), Quewin Nortje (Pretoria).
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]