No-one is happier than Gerhard van den Heever that the Bulls are playing the Stormers in the Super 14 final at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
JJ Harmse – Sport24
Not only does it offer the 21-year-old wing a chance to play in his first final, but also to measure himself against Bryan Habana.
Habana was a mentor and team-mate of the Bulls youngster until last year, but even the Springbok wing will be surprised at the dramatic rise of the former hurdles athlete.
Van den Heever has been sitting on the sidelines for the past two weeks after being suspended for a dangerous tackle, but is now ready and motivated for the final.
“Yes, it is a relief,” the wing told Sport24 shortly after the Bulls beat the Crusaders in their semi-final.
“It’s frustrating to watch the rest of your team-mates sweat and you can’t be involved.”
He is very excited about his duel with Habana.
“He is still the best wing in the world and that is what rugby is all about at this level – measuring yourself against the best.”
Van den Heever’s inclusion in place of Jaco van der Westhuyzen on the right wing is a given, with the veteran Springbok set to move to the substitutes bench.
It’s likely to be the only change to the Bulls team for the final, though there is concern about the shoulder injury that Danie Rossouw suffered.
Rossouw left the field in the second half after taking a knock high against the shoulder close to his neck. He missed a game earlier this year because of a similar injury.
“It’s too early to say how serious the injury is, but I don’t think we have to worry and I’m confident he’ll be ready,” said Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.
Ludeke knows that he can bank on Flip van der Merwe to lock the scrum with Victor Matfield.
Van der Merwe has been a success story when going on as a substitute this year and was frequently part of a successful Bulls fightback.
Fingers will nevertheless be crossed that Rossouw will be able to take his place, especially as Bakkies Botha is still suspended.
Van der Merwe’s work-rate and ability to keep the ball alive is a major asset for any team.
Bulls team doctor Org Strauss expects that Rossouw will recover in time. A few other players are also struggling with bumps and bruises.
Francois Hougaard has major bruising to one of his hands and Dewald Potgieter sustained a dead leg.
Wynand Olivier, who was outstanding on defence, took a hard knock to his one knee, but should be fine.
Olivier’s direct style gave the Crusaders major problems and his defence caused a lot of panic in their ranks.