This will be the game of the weekend in the Currie Cup with the Blue Bulls hosting the Lions in Pretoria. The Lions got off to a winning start last weekend with the Blue Bulls winning one losing one.
This should be an intriguing clash between two capable sides, with the Blue Bulls having been boosted by the return of fit-again Trevor Nyakane, while Lionel Mapoe is back with the Golden Lions after scoring two tries for the Springboks last Saturday.
Nyakane was set to start at tighthead prop for the Boks against England before he was unfortunately ruled out with a rib injury, and so there is no doubt that his performance will garner the attention of Rassie Erasmus.
It will also be interesting to see how much game time Ivan van Zyl is afforded off the bench after Embrose Papier was preferred as the scrumhalf backup in the first two Tests of the Rugby Championship.
Mapoe’s return to the Lions is relatively surprising after his encouraging display in Argentina, but the plan had always been for Jesse Kriel to rejoin the Springboks for this next leg of their campaign, and he will conversely be missed by the Bulls.
Last week, Bok attack consultant Swys de Bruin completed a hand-over of sorts to Currie Cup coach Ivan van Rooyen, who will be looking to oversee a second successive victory after the Lions powered past the Griquas last weekend.
The Bulls have started off their season with a win and a loss, and remain slight underdogs heading into Saturday’s encounter at Loftus.
Prediction: Blue Bulls by 9
Blue Bulls – 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jonny Kotze, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 André Warner, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Jano Venter, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendré Stassen, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Conrad van Vuuren, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Duncan Matthews.
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Corné Fourie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Vincent Tshituka, 21 Madosh Tambwe, 22 Wandisile Simelane.