Try-scoring record holder Bjorn Basson is back to bolster the Vodacom Blue Bulls ahead of their Absa Currie Cup match against the DHL Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The winger has now fully recovered from the effects of an operation following a tear to his intestines in the Vodacom Super Rugby play-off match between the Vodacom Bulls and Crusaders way back in May.
Basson, who improved the Vodacom Bulls try scoring record in a season in 2012, is also the South African record holder for tries in a Currie Cup season and his finishing ability will be welcomed by the Blue Bulls, who are with their backs against the wall in this year’s competition. He replaces Sampie Mastriet.
“It certainly is good to know Bjorn is fit and ready to go. He is a world class player and we will try to get the ball in his hands,” Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said in Pretoria on Tuesday in announcing his team.
The late call-up of Arno Botha to the Springboks squad again results in a new loose trio combination for the WP match. Jean Cook slots in at number seven to replace his former SA U.20 team mate, while Dean Greyling has been bracketed with Mornè Mellett at loosehead in the only other change to the team that came so close in beating The Sharks last weekend.
Greyling just returned from a two week suspension picked up while playing for the Springboks in Dunedin against the All Blacks. A final call on who will start in the number one jersey will be made later in the week.
Chiliboy Ralepelle makes a welcome return to the side after recovering from a knee injury and will play off the bench for his first Currie Cup action of the year. He replaces Bongi Mbonambi.
“We are not out of the competition yet and that is a positive for us. We realise though that only our very best efforts over the last two weeks will get us into a possible play-off spot and that is what I am expecting of the team – their very best,” Pienaar said.
The team to play WP is: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouchè, Jano Vermaak, CJ Stander, Jean Cook, Dewald Potgieter ©, Franco Mostert, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Werner Kruger, Willie Wepener, Mornè Mellett/Dean Greyling. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Frik Kirsten, Grant Hattingh, Warwick Tecklenburg, Ruan Snyman, Lionel Cronjè, Ulrich Beyers.