Lood de Jager to debut for Bulls

Springbok lock and former SA Rugby Player of the Year, Lood de Jager, will make his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls on Saturday in Cape Town.

The Bulls will take on the Stormers at Newlands in the opening round of the Super Rugby competition.

De Jager, who gained 40 Super Rugby caps for the Toyota Cheetahs, has been named along five Springboks test players in the starting team, with Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo, Handré Pollard, Rudy Paige, and Jacques Potgieter.  Another Springbok, Piet van Zyl, will be on the bench. RG Snyman and Lizo Gqoboka also played in the Green and Gold last season although they do not have test rugby experience.

De Jager is one of four newcomers to the Bulls team in their opening fixture of the competition. Edgar Marutlulle and Jacobie Adriaanse (both Lions and Southern Kings) have already played at this level and will make their Bulls debuts when called upon from the bench, while back-up flanker, Ruan Steenkamp will make his Bulls and Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.

Pollard will lead the team for the first time as captain and will make his first appearance in Super Rugby since 29 May 2015, when he played against the Brumbies in Canberra. Injuries kept him out of rugby during the 2016 season.

Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, was keen to get the season underway, despite the massive challenge they face in round one.

“You need to beat the best teams in the competition if you want to win it and to be honest, there will be no easy games. The Stormers will pose a massive challenge, no doubt, but that will be a good benchmark for us at the start of our campaign. We have realistic expectations this year and with a good start, we believe we can still be involved come the final weekends,” he said.

Marais was happy with his squad, despite missing a number of players.

“We are without proven players such as Adriaan (Strauss), Arno (Botha), Jan (Serfontein) and Roelof (Smit), but that is the nature of this competition. Fact is, we have some serious talent in this group and we owe it to ourselves and our supporters to do justice to that,” Marais indicated.

Pollard promised a competitive effort.

“Look, this is one of the classic matches on the calendar and we look forward to this challenge. The Stormers are a class team and playing them at home is probably the toughest start of all in the competition. That said, we have the belief in the squad and the confidence that we can do well this year. We now need to go out there and show our worth,” said the young captain.

The team to play against the Stormers at Newlands is:

Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, Travis Ismaiel, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jacques Potgieter, Nick de Jager, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman.

Replacements: Edgar Marutlelle, Jacobie Adriaanse, Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Ruan Steenkamp, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Warrick Gelant.

 

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