Promising young lock Marvin Orie will lead a young Vodacom Bulls side into battle against the Toyota Cheetahs in Harare on Saturday as both sides begin their preparations for the regional franchise competition in earnest.
Orie was a natural choice for leadership and coach Nollis Marais had no qualms in giving him the reigns of a very young and inexperienced Bulls side that has few recognisable faces for many fans.
While the stalwarts of Werner Kruger and Callie Visagie are there, halfback Piet van Zyl is the only other senior player in the squad which has a number of talented youngsters such as Tian Schoeman, South Africa under-20 captain Hanro Liebenberg, new signings Freddy Ngoza and Lizo Gqoboka and the other Kriel twin Dan.
There is an extremely young and exciting back three of Divan Rossouw, Kefentse Mahlo and Jade Stighling while on the bench the likes of Jamba Ulengo, Nqoba Mxoli and Pierre Schoeman can make an impact.
Francois Brummer, who joined the Bulls from Griquas, is on the bench.
Marais said from Harare that there was no simpler choice than the captain for this game.
“Marvin and myself come a long way since Junior rugby, he has been my captain at other levels. He knows how I think and is part of the leadership group already. He is also a player for the future who can lead the Bulls and take it further. We want to lead him into that,” Marais said.
While some may have expected more senior players in the side, the chances are that the likes of Jan Serfontein, Jesse Kriel, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss and Arno Botha will all start the game against the Emirates Lions in Polokwane.
Marais said it may be a young team, but the players are vital to the cause for the Bulls during the upcoming Super Rugby season.
“People can say it is a watered down team. We have 40 players here on this camp and we want every one to be as good as the other one.
“I want everyone to get a chance in the pre-season and I want to see certain combinations and I want to give guys a fair chance to prove themselves ahead of the first game against the Stormers,” Marais said.
“We want to win the game and we want to tick a few boxes and make sure that every member of the squad knows the way forward. There are things you see only when you are under pressure but our first goal is always to win the game.”
There was a brief scare when flanker Lappies Labuschagne injured his ankle during training in Harare on Wednesday but the initial diagnosis wasn’t too bad, with Labuschagne set to return to training next week after being withdrawn from the sessions as a precaution.
15. Divan Rossouw, 14. Kefentse Mahlo, 13. Dries Swanepoel, 12. Dan Kriel, 11. Jade Stighling, 10. Tian Schoeman, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 6. Freddy Ngoza, 5. Marvin Orie, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16. Jaco Visagie, 17. Pierre Schoeman, 18. Nqoba Mxoli, 19. Irne Herbst, 20. Riekert Hattingh, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Francois Brummer, 23. JT Jackson, 24. Jamba Ulengo.
Tienie Burger, Uzair Cassiem, Luan de Bruin, Lood de Jager, Jacques du Toit, Reniel Hugo, Niell Jordaan, Armandt Koster, Hilton Lobberts, Charles Marais, Danie Mienie, Boom Prinsloo, Neil Rautenbach, Paul Schoeman, Maks van Dyk, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Henco Venter, Carl Wegner, Clayton Blommetjies, Maphutha Dolo, Reinhardt Erwee, Gerrie Labuschagne, Niel Marais, Tian Meyer, Sergeal Petersen, Raymond Rhule, William Small-Smith, JP Smith, Michael van der Spuy, Ruan van Rensburg, Francois Venter, Shaun Venter, Fred Zeilinga.