New Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has named his squad for the upcoming Currie Cup competition, with a number of Springboks amongst the group that will try to win the coveted trophy for the first time in his tenure.
Marais named the likes of Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Handré Pollard, Rudy Paige, Victor Matfield, Marcel van der Merwe, Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss in his extended group, but most of them are likely to be involved with South Africa’s Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup campaigns and could see very little if any Currie Cup action.
Even in their absence, the squad is packed with proven players that have won the Currie Cup before, as well as a number of Springboks not part of national coach Heyneke Meyer’s squad for 2015.
More rejuvenating for the coach though, is the new breed of talent bursting through the senior ranks.
"This is exciting times for us," Marais said when he announced the squad in Pretoria on Tuesday.
"We have some of the best young players in the country who won national titles at Under-19 and Under-21 level and excelled for the Junior Springboks on the world stage.
"Coupled with that, we have some classy internationals available for this campaign and I am pretty confidentthat we will be a very competitive outfit this year.
"We are working very hard already. We are keen to get going and our two warm-up matches (EP Kings in PE on July 17 and Canon, Japan on July 31) will be very important in our preparations.
"We are an inexperienced squad in that we have not played much together as a team, but all of these players are true blue in attitude, commitment and passion, so we just need to execute a game plan to complement their talent."
Blue Bulls Currie Cup squad:
Backs: Jesse Kriel (Springboks), Jurgen Visser, Jacques Rossouw, Warrick Gelant, Riaan Britz, Duncan Matthews, Ryan Nell, Travis Ismaiel, Kefentse Mahlo, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Jan Serfontein (Springboks), William Small-Smith, Dries Swanepoel, Daniel Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Handré Pollard (Springboks), Tian Schoeman, Marais Schmidt, Louis Fouché, Rudy Paige (Springboks), Francois Hougaard, Carlo Engelbrecht, André Warner, Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl (injured).
Forwards: Pierre Spies, Hanro Liebenberg, Clyde Davids, Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten, Deon Stegmann, Lappies Labuschagne, Roelof Smit. Ruan Steenkamp, Victor Matfield (Springboks), Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jacques du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe, Jason Jenkins, Irné Herbst, Marcel van der Merwe (Springboks), Werner Kruger, Andrew Beerwinkel, Nqoba Mxoli, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Trevor Nyakane (Springboks), Dean Greyling, Morné Mellett, Justin Forwood, Neethling Fouché., Pierre Schoeman, Adriaan Strauss (Springboks), Bandise Maku, Jaco Visagie, Corniel Els. Injured: Callie Visagie.
*Pierre Spies contracted until October 2015, indicated but not confirmed early release in order to go to Japan.