‘Bossie’ back in the ‘Bosveld’
There are still a number of Lions fans who reflect fondly on Marnitz Boshoff’s time at Ellis Park.
The 30-year-old pivot didn’t always seem a natural fit in the team’s expansive template, but learnt to adapt quite quickly and became a stalwart, particularly as a reliable goal-kicker.
On Friday evening, Boshoff returns to his hometown, Mbombela, with a brief of recalling and execution all the attacking skills he acquired against the gritty Pumas.
It’s a must-win game for both teams, who have lost both their opening games of the shortened tournament.
“The backline was a bit flat (last week against the Cheetahs),” said Bulls mentor Pote Human.
“It’s an area where I feel Marnitz can make a big difference.”
But to do that, he needs a platform from his forwards and that’s no easy task against a home team whose loose trio has a balanced look to it.
Pumas: Devon Williams, Morne Joubert, Ryan Nell (c), Henko Marais, Etienne Taljaard, Chris Smith, Ashlon Davids, Jeandre Rudolph, Willie Engelbrecht, Francois Kleinhans, Stefan Willemse, Le Roux Roets, Marne Coetzee, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Andrew Beerwinkel. Bench: Simon Westraadt, De-Jay Terblanche, Hilton Lobberts, Phumzile Maqondwana, Reynier van Rooyen, Kobus Marais, Alwayno Visagie, Morgan Naude.
Blue Bulls: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Marnitz Boshoff, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Ruan Steenkamp (c), Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Adre Smit, Wian Vosloo, Andre Warner, Manie Libbok, Jade Stighling.
Bloemfontein is an appropriate top-of-the-table clash
When this year’s tournament started, there probably weren’t a lot of observers who would’ve thought the best sides in the competition to date would be the central franchises.
But, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s not really surprising.
Griquas have stability and came off an excellent SuperSport Challenge title win, while the Cheetahs are rested and revitalised as new Pro14 coach Hawies Fourie builds depth, which in turn seems to have set the stage for Franco Smith to have a nice swansong before departing for Italy.
Griquas’ ecosystem might be a bit disrupted with the injured sustained by dynamic fullback Anthony Volmink, though it must also be said that last weekend’s escape against the Pumas would’ve shaken them from any complacency.
As a result, they’ll be keen to show their prowess, while the Cheetahs wouldn’t want to show last week’s sterling showing at Loftus was a fluke.
Real top-flight stuff should be expected on Saturday.
Free State Cheetahs: Darron Adonis, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Dries Swanepoel, Rabz Maxwane, Tian Schoeman, Tian Meyer (c), Henco Venter, Abongile Nonkontwana, Junior Pokomela, Walt Steenkamp, Sintu Manjezi, Aranos Coetzee, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche. Bench: Jacques du Toit, Charles Marais, Reinach Venter, JP du Preez, Marnus van der Merwe, Gerhard Olivier, Dian Badenhorst, Louis Fouche.
Griquas: George Whitehead (c), Ederies Arendse, Eduan Keyter, Andre Swarts, Bjorn Basson, Tinus de Beer, Zak Burger, Niell Jordaan, Sias Koen, Gideon van der Merwe, Johan Momsen, Ian Groenewald, Ewald van der Westhuizen, AJ le Roux, Khwezi Mona. Bench: Wilmar Arnoldi, Mox Mxoli, Victor Sekekete, Zandre Jordaan, Chriswill September, Michal Haznar, Grant Hermanus, Ruan Kramer.
The divergent paths of two No 8s
Province coach John Dobson probably had few people startled by reminding them that, yes, Sikhumbuzo Notshe is still around.
It’s been a bit of a fall from grace for the eighthman, who less than a year ago was starting for the Springboks against the Wallabies.
Form and injuries have combined in a toxic way in making him fall way down the pecking order.
Strikingly, Jaco Coetzee has seized his chance and become a household name at the Stormers and Province, which makes Dobson’s decision to grant Notshe a reprieve at Newlands against the Lions on Saturday significant
He needs to take his chance.
His direct opponent is Hacjivah Dayimani, a youngster who’s career is also at a crossroad.
The lanky loose forward was superb in last year’s tournament, but that success came at a price as the Lions hierarchy believes he might be better suited to a backline role.
Yet now he’s back in his more familiar position, which does nothing to alleviate the limbo.
Western Province: Dillyn Leyds, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Dan Kriel, SP Marais, Josh Stander, Paul de Wet, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, JD Schickerling, Ernst van Rhyn, Chris van Zyl (c), Salmaan Moerat, Carlu Sadie, Scarra Ntubeni, Corne Fourie. Bench: Chad Solomon, Kwenzo Blose, Wilco Louw, David Meihuizen, Jaco Coetzee, Godlen Masimla, Edwill van der Merwe, Sergeal Petersen.
Lions: Tyrone Green, Madosh Tambwe, Wandi Simelane, Jan-Louis la Grange, Stean Pienaar, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje (c), Hacjivah Dayimani, Vince Tshituka, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Ruben Schoeman, Johannes Jonker, Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole. Bench: PJ Botha, Leo Kruger, Jacobie Adriaanse, Wilhelm van der Sluys, James Venter, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Manny Rass.