Bulls squad packed with Boks
The Vodacom Bulls announced a squad of 46 players that includes 12 Springboks as they look to an improved performance this year in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.
With Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss now retired from international rugby, the side includes new signings Johnny Kotze (from DHL Stormers), Jacques Potgieter (Cell C Sharks) and Conraad van Vuuren (Toyota Free State)
Strauss, however, will sit out the opening month of the competition with a back injury, meaning Handre Pollard will lead the side with Hanro Liebenberg likely to deputise on the field.
Strauss (132 matches) is by far the most experienced player in the squad, with Trevor Nyakane (70), and Piet van Zyl (68) the only other players past 50 caps.
Jan Serfontein (48) and Arno Botha (46) could pass that milestone soon while a number of new faces could debut in 2017.
Luther Obi, Jade Stighling, JT Jackson, Tony Jantjies, Duncan Matthews, Kefentse Mahlo, Sibahle Maxwane and Andre Warner are the backs that could make their first Super Rugby appearances, while forwards Shaun Adendorff, Ruan Steenkamp, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson and Corniel Els could also feature in the competition for the first time. Prop Martin Dreyer did play for the DHL Stormers in previous seasons, but has not yet played for the Vodacom Bulls in the competition.
Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais is excited about the season and expressed happiness with the squad.
“It is exciting times for us and we are keen to get going. A lot of the players have experienced Super Rugby last season for the first time, so they will have a much better understanding of what to expect. We have one or two players out with injury still, but that gives another guy the opportunity to grow and gain experience,” Marais said.
The Vodacom Bulls squad for 2017 is:
Ulrich Beyers, Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel*, Travis Ismaiel, Luther Obi, Jamba Ulengo*, Jade Stighling, Duncan Matthews, Kefentse Mahlo, Sibahle Maxwane, Johnny Kotze, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Jan Serfontein*, Francois Brummer, Tony Jantjies, Tian Schoeman, Handre Pollard* (c), Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl*, Rudy Paige*, Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha*, Nick de Jager, Renaldo Bothma**, Jannes Kirsten, Jacques Potgieter*, Roelof Smit***, Shaun Adendorff, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager*, RG Snyman***, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane*, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Martin Dreyer, Jacobie Adriaanse, Pierre Schoeman, Lizo Gqoboko***, Adriaan Strauss*, Edgar Marutlulle, Corniel Els,Jaco Visagie.
***Springbok tourist v Barbarians
Players in: Johnny Kotze (Stormers), Jacques Potgieter (Cell C Sharks), Conraad van Vuuren (Toyota Free State).
Players out: SP Marais, Bjorn Basson, Dan Kriel (all DHL Stormers), Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh (all Japan), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Marcel van der Merwe (France), Werner Kruger (Wales), Callie Visagie, Bandise Maku (retired).