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Exclusive: Two Bulls teams in action this weekend, how will they pull it off?

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There will be two Bulls senior sides in action on two different continents and in two different competitions this weekend, which has prompted a few questions.

Both the franchise side, the Bulls as well as the provincial side the Blue Bulls will take to the field on the same day, representing the very same fanbase. But even for a union that has garnered so much strength in depth, surely this is a huge ask, especially considering their local opponents this Saturday.

Two Bulls sides affecting each others strengths

While the Bulls Rainbow Cup side has arrived safely in Italy for their much-publicized North vs South Pro14 final, they have predictably taken with them the bulk of the union’s firepower. Although they have lost just four players to Jacques Nienaber’s Springbok camp, losing pivotal squad members such as Morne Steyn, Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden as well as Duane Vermeulen has had a domino effect.

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That domino effect has of course trickled down to the Bulls Currie Cup side, as to compensate for the loss of such players, as well as some injuries to Embrose Papier, even newly signed players from both the club and Varsity Cup scenes such hooker Sydney Tobias as well as UCT Varsity Cup finalist loosehead prop Robert Hunt. Fourth-choice scrumhalf Keagan Johannes who would’ve likely started for the Currie Cup side under normal circumstances.

But these circumstances are far from normal, however, therefore have rightfully had many rugby followers in the country curiously asking “How will the union cope?”

Well, the Rainbow Cup travelling squad release made a team prediction a lot easier as they embark on “The Italian Job”. But that squad has birthed another question, “who is left?”.

Source clarifies the Club Rugby players myth

Early assumptions were that the Pretoria-based union were set to field a majority club rugby side, but a source close to the proceedings at Loftus spoke to The South African and has since dispelled that myth.

“I don’t want to push the narrative that there are majority club rugby players in contention this weekend that would be a lie,” he said

“They currently have a healthy squad of about 30-35 players training for this weekend’s encounter and even though there is a handle full of club players, they certainly don’t dominate the camp and maybe one might start at hooker,” the source continued.

READ | BULLS COACH JAKE WHITE RALLIES BEHIND CRIES FOR BIGGER SQUADS

Quizzed on who that squad consists of he was happy to shed a bit of light.

“The squad is made up of the younger and fringe players who are usually on the peripheries of Jake Whites side, some players who may have appeared during their Super Rugby Unlocked loss to the Pumas, as well as the early rounds of the Preparations Series,” he said.

UP Tuks Varsity Cup side players set for some reward?

He also went further to hint that there was set to be some reward for a contingent of the UP Tuks Varsity Cup-winning side, including a start for the captain of the side, Sango Xamlashe

“About 10 of that squad are from the Tuks Varsity Cup-winning side, as it stands I think Sango will start and that’s if nothing changes. Overall I think at least five of them will make the matchday 23”.

The source was also on hand to offer a bit of insight on the situation regarding Mhleli “Giraffe” Dlamini. The Durban-born tighthead prop joined the Bulls in a much-publicised move which was billed as a victory for the club rugby scene. However, he is yet to feature for the side.

Mhleli Dlamini’s readiness

“Giraffe is actually coming along very nicely, they’re working with behind the scenes trying to get him ready for top-level rugby. This game might just come a bit too soon for him though, from what I’m hearing”.

WATCH | MARCELL COETZEE IS SET TO MAKE HIS BULLS DEBUT, BUT HOW DID JAKE WHITE CONVINCE HIM TO JOIN

The source then went further to confirm that there was maybe a maximum of three players from the u20 side but none are likely to feature as it stands. Other players who are likely to feature could be the likes of Tuks Varsity Cup winning side flyhalf David Coetzer. Coetzer is an accomplished junior player having played both SA Schools and SA u20. He had also featured for Western Province before signing for the Bulls last year. Upon arrival, he was involved in the senior team but couldn’t quite breakthrough, and after an impressive Varsity Cup, he could finally get his much awaited opportunity at that level.

Another potential likely feature would be Simphiwe Matanzima. The loosehead prop would be a welcome return for the Bulls and one that would excite the Bulls faithful. Matanzima has been hampered by long-term injuries in the last two years and had recovered about two months ago now. Although his path back in to White’s side is currently blocked by the likes of Gerhard Steenekamp and Jacques Van Rooyen. He has reportedly been featuring at club level, however, and would be relishing an opportunity to go out there to remind people what he is capable of.

Another youngster who could feature is former SA Schools flank Uzile Tele who had been sent to play for Shimlas during the Varsity Cup to get some much needed game time under his belt. The lanky star has already made a senior appearance for the Bulls under White, in their Preperations Series victory over the EP Elephants earlier this year and is believed to be highly thought of within the Loftus corridors.

The Bulls are set to announce their team’s for both their encounters against Benetton and Western Province later this week.

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