Having beaten the Reds convincingly and earning themselves a bonus point for scoring more than four tries, the Bulls will be at near full strength with the return of Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss, flyhalf Handré Pollard, centre Jan Serfontein and flank Lappies Labu-schagne.
Strauss returns after his mandatory one-week rest period as per agreement between Saru and the five Super Rugby franchises and will certainly reclaim his place in the starting line-up in place of Callie Visagie.
Pollard and Serfontein also return from their rest periods, which coincided with them nursing minor injuries, and they too will in all likelihood slot back into the starting line-up while Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will consider juggling his loose trio combination with the return of Labuschagne from injury.
Before being a victim of an unintentional but perfect right hook from teammate Arno Botha in the game against the Western Force three weeks ago, Labus-chagne had been the stand-out player in the Bulls team along with prop Trevor Nyakane.
Ludeke will seriously consider starting Labuschagne in a loose trio combination with captain Pierre Spies at No8 and Botha at openside flank while Deon Stegmann could be given a rest after having played in all of the Bulls matches so far this season.
Former Springbok and now veteran wing Akona Ndungane has also recovered from his broken hand and even though he has played two matches with the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup this year, Ludeke could find a place for him on the bench as cover for wing and fullback.
There could be further reshuffling of the Bulls line-up come Thursday’s team announcement with the likes of Jacques du Plessis and Nyakane being given a rest as they have featured in every game so far and Nyakane is owed his mandatory rest time as a Springbok.
Ludeke has admitted that he does face a handful of selection posers especially over the next two weeks where the Bulls will be playing two very difficult derbies against local rivals the Sharks and the Stormers away from home and it is imperative that the Pretoria franchise put forward their best team if they are to have any ambitions of winning both these vital games.
According to Ludeke there is clarity amongst the players as to who will play in the next two weeks but that consideration must be taken of the importance of having depth within the squad in order to successfully negotiate the “make or break” part of the season.
“It is a great situation to be in, you need depth in your squad.
“If the communication is up front, it makes it easy for the players to remain committed.
“We face two vital away games in the next two weeks so it will be a crucial time for us,” Ludeke said.
A few players did not train with the team yesterday due to the normal bumps and bruises from the win against the Reds with Jacques-Louis Potgieter suffering with a hamstring strain, Marcel van der Merwe with an ankle problem, Burger Odendaal with a contusion, Bjorn Basson with an ankle issue and prop Morné Mellett with back spasms but Bulls doctor Org Strauss confirmed that all will be fit for selection and back at training today. - The Star
Original source: Boks boost for Bulls