The Bulls are going into the Currie Cup final with just one change to their team – Johan Grobbelaar starting at hooker and Schalk Erasmus going to the bench – which means disappointment for Sevens Springbok Stedman Gans.
The outside centre has been one of the stars of the season for the Bulls, but he was a late withdrawal from last weekend’s semifinal against the Lions with a hamstring strain.
Coach Jake White said on Thursday that Gans had not recovered enough for him to be willing to gamble on selecting him.
“I don’t think Stedman is ready. It would be a helluva risk to play him, especially since there’s often extra time in finals. So he’s not available,” White said.
“It was a tough call for him and I’m sure he’s very disappointed, but I’ve been very happy with Marco Jansen van Vuren as well. He’s defended well, especially against the Lions, who will really stretch and test you, so he has massive confidence at the moment.”
White chose to deflect a question over what the Bulls had learnt from their loss to the Sharks in their previous meeting – a 32-29 defeat in Durban last month – by saying if one learned more from defeats than from victory, then the Bulls were the “masters of learning” given their failure to win the Currie Cup since 2009.
“The Bulls are tired of losing, tired of not playing in finals, so it’s a massive game on Saturday,” he said.
“We’re playing at home, so it’s a great opportunity and there is a tremendous hunger in the side.
“It’s an incredible achievement to host the final and now the cherry on top would be to win.”
The 2007 World Cup winning coach acknowledged that winning the Currie Cup would be a highlight of his career.
“It would mean a lot to me to win because I have great respect for the Currie Cup. And you can see the players’ desire, which is giving them energy and an unbelievable drive to get it right.”