A HOST of Springboks and emerging South African rugby players descend on the National Sports Stadium today when Super Rugby side the Vodacom Bulls and the Toyota Cheetahs clash in the Lafarge Zimbabwe Champions Cup.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The highly-anticipated encounter kicks off at 3pm and a host of other activities, including a schoolboy derby pitting rivals Prince Edward and Churchill, will set the stage for what should be an epic encounter between these two rugby giants
Matches between the two rivals have always produced fireworks and today’s encounter is expected to be no different as both teams look to assert a bit of early dominance over each other ahead of a long and challenging season.
Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss told NewsDay Sport yesterday that his team-mates were in a positive mood ahead of their Super Rugby pre-season derby against the Toyota Cheetahs.
The talented Springboks hooker said the fact that the Bulls had decided to rest most of their senior players would not take the gloss away from today’s clash and tipped the young side selected to deliver against their rivals.
“We’ve had a very productive week here in Zimbabwe as we sought to see where we stand ahead of the upcoming season, so it will be a very important game for us,” Strauss said.
“We’ve a got a very strong squad, which is very important in Super Rugby. We’ve got a solid group of players which has a good balance between established international players and young players for the future. The match might not count for anything as far as points on the Super Rugby table are concerned, but it’s still important for us. We want to see where we are at the moment in terms of how the preparation phase has gone,” he said.
With Strauss rested for today’s encounter, promising young lock Marvin Orie will lead a young Vodacom Bulls side which, although lacking in experience, should still be able to challenge an equally young Cheetahs side.
But the Bulls look to have gone for experience in key positions with Springboks halfback Piet van Zyl, seasoned hooker Callie Visagie and prop Werner Kruger all named in the starting XV.
Kruger, who was part of the Bulls team that won both the 2009 and 2010 Super 14 finals, is expected to play a crucial role upfront.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs, who like to play an expansive style of rugby, also look to have gone for their young guns with lock Reniel Hugo expected to lead a team that is missing most of its first-choice players. Players such as seasoned captain Francois Venter, flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld, prop Maks van Dyk and winger Raymond Rhule are all on the bench.