Sport / Rugby

Sport Staff
2 minute read
7 Feb 2017
12:03 pm

4 players who’ll be anxiously watched in the Bulls’ warm-up

Sport Staff

Handre Pollard and Trevor Nyakane are but two players who might become very important if the Springboks hope to improve in 2017.

Handre Pollard hasn't played competitive rugby in over a year and yet he's already being considered as a messiah for the Boks in 2017. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images.

If Bulls fans wanted an indication of what their Super Rugby side’s first choice XV might look like, they got one on Tuesday.

Nollis Marais, the Pretoria-based franchise’s head coach, named a strong side for the warm-up match against the Chiefs in Brisbane on Thursday.

Yet four specific players will be of interest to Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.

Handre Pollard

He starts at flyhalf in his first competitive game for more than a year following knee and shoulder injuries.

Given how poorly stocked the Boks’ No 10 jersey looked in last year’s disastrous season, Coetzee will hope the 22-year-old playmaker shows signs of potentially making an impact in 2017.

To be honest, there’s a huge amount of expectation surrounding Pollard’s return.

His ability to attack the advantage line and composure has always marked him out as an exciting prospect.

But is there perhaps too much pressure on him already?

Jesse Kriel

At fullback, Marais has kept to his promise to hand Jesse Kriel a run in the position.

In 2015, Kriel leapt into Heyneke Meyer’s Bok squad following fine performances in Super Rugby but was then shifted to centre.

He hasn’t quite had the same impact after that.

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane has for some time been considered a versatile option at prop for the Boks because he can play at loosehead or tighthead.

But the friendly scrummer has made it clear that he wants to be a tighthead this season.

And given the absence of Julian Redelinghuys, Nyakane can make that position his own if he performs consistently.

Heck knows, the Springboks need him to do so.

Lood de Jager

From being crowned South African Player of the Year in 2015, Lood de Jager thudded down to earth last year.

The lanky lock struggled to dominate his opponents physically and seemingly forgot to make all the tackles that had many observers wax lyrical the previous season.

But his move from Bloemfontein to Loftus will hopefully reignite the fire within a player, who whilst not being the most talented compensates more than enough with his work ethic and enthusiasm.

“We don’t have much time left in the pre-season, so it will be important for certain combinations to work well in this match,” said Marais.

“The Chiefs are a formidable team and this will be an important match to see where we are at this early in the season.”

Bulls: Jesse Kriel, Travis Ismaiel, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Handre Pollard (c), Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jacques Potgieter, Nic de Jager, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Bench: Edgar Maruthlule, Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Ruan Steenkamp, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Warrick Gelant, John-Roy Jenkinson, Jacobie Adriaanse, Renaldo Bothma, Francois Brummer, JT Jackson.

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