Wandisile Simelane in the center, on the wing or at the back? Cornal Hendricks on wing or centre? David Kriel at the back or in the center?
These were the questions Bulls coach Jake White faced when he selected his team for their opener. United Rugby Championship game against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, and last season’s beaten finalists announced a new backline on Friday.
Most interest has centered on where Simelane, signed from the Lions over the winter, would fit in, and the talented 24-year-old will make his debut at the back. It means an interesting change in the center for Kriel, who played most of his rugby for the Bulls in the No 15 shirt before White decided he wanted more of a counter-attacking threat from behind.
“It’s important with the way the game is going and the way I like to coach, that the players are interchangeable,” White said on Friday. “Look at the All Blacks, where Beauden and Jordy Barrett and Richie Mounga are running the game in different positions. It’s not about the number on your back.
“Wandisile is a gifted footballer, I believe he was offered a scholarship as a kid by Kaizer Chiefs. He just has that feel for the game, the way he kicks with such good timing.
“And with Lukhanyo Am playing at No.13 for the Springboks and being one of the best in the world, for Wandi to play for the Boks he needs to be more versatile.
“We’ve traded backs a bit, but they understand each other. We want to change our game a bit and there’s been talk about what we can add,” White said.
S’bu Nkosi will also make his Bulls debut on the opposite wing to Hendricks, while the other player to don the blue jersey for the first time will be eighth-placed Mihlali Mosi, the 26-year-old who was signed from the Free State. Cheetahs.
“Mihlali was a boy from Muir College and he also has good feelings, great touches, and I loved his big lines in practice. I can’t wait for him to hit holes on Saturday because he really understands the support lines.
“He’s not small either, so he’s also a line-up option at the back, either catching or lifting. He’s in a pack with a few Springboks and I hope he learns from that. them and it will improve his game,” White said.
The coach said fly-half Johan Goosen was almost fit to play again, “but we’re not going to rush things, we want to make sure he’s ready, make sure he’s mentally fit.” easy”.
Utility striker Jacques du Plessis, props Simphiwe Matanzima and Lizo Gqoboka, utility full-back James Verity-Amm and loose forward Muller Uys are the other players with injury concerns.
bulls: Wandisile Simelane, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel, S’bu Nkosi, Chris Smith, Embrose Paper; Mihlali Mosi, Ruan Vermaak, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Substitutes – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Dylan Smith, François Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Marco van Staden; Zak Burger, Morne Steyn, Stedman Gans.