The Bulls will fly to Italy on Monday night for the Rainbow Cup final with a powerful squad missing just three Springboks as they look to transfer their dominance of South African rugby to the European stage.
The Bulls will be taking on Benetton Treviso, the surprise winners of the European leg of the competition, and it looks like coach Jake White is only going to have to make two changes to the starting line-up that led them to an impressive win over the Sharks last weekend and a place in the final.
To think that only Morne Steyn, Marco van Staden and Trevor Nyakane (and the injured Duane Vermeulen) are in the Springboks’ plans for the series against the British and Irish Lions is quite astonishing when one considers that the Bulls have won every trophy on offer in South Africa in the last year.
And White is in the fortunate position of being able to replace Van Staden and Nyakane with fellow Springboks in Nizaam Carr and Lizo Gqoboka.
Carr has mostly played eighthman for the Bulls when Duane Vermeulen has been resting, but Marcell Coetzee has shifted seamlessly into the injured talisman’s position at the back of the scrum, and Carr is certainly not going to feel out of place at openside flank, having played there many times before for the Stormers and the Springboks.
Gqoboka is fit to play after a foot injury that was blamed for keeping him out of the Springbok squad, with Jacques van Rooyen able to cover tighthead prop in the absence of Nyakane.
Steyn is likely to be replaced by Chris Smith, who has shown on numerous occasions already that he is going to be a very handy performer for the Bulls going forward.
Exciting lock prospect Ruan Nortje did very well in Durban in his first outing as the Bulls’ blindside flank, and if the conditions in Treviso suit running rugby then he could well continue in that position, with Janko Swanepoel and Walt Steenkamp once again teaming up in the second row.
The unrelated Muller and Jan Uys could both be on the bench, with the exciting young Zak Burger suiting up as the replacement scrumhalf.
Forwards: Lizo Gqoboka, Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Schalk Erasmus, Sydney Tobias, Jacques Van Rooyen, Mornay Smith, Robert Hunt, Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Jan Uys, Walt Steenkamp, WJ Steenkamp, Muller Uys, Marcell Coetzee, Nizaam Carr.
Backs: Ivan Van Zyl, Zak Burger, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smith, Clinton Swart, Cornal Hendricks, Marco Janse van Vuren, Stravino Jacobs, Madosh Tambwe, Dawid Kellerman, Gio Aplon, David Kriel.