Bulls hand debut to Ulengo

Date published: March 15 2016

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Former Springbok Sevens flyer Jamba Ulengo will make his Super Rugby debut on Friday for the Bulls against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

The hard-running Ulengo, who scored 11 tries in 11 matches for the Blue Bulls in last year’s Currie Cup, replaces Trevor Ismaiel on the right wing in the only change to the starting backline. 

Up front, Bulls coach Nollis Marais, also swopped Roelof Smit and Nic de Jager around, with Smit starting at open side and De Jager moving to the bench.

South Africa's current Young Player of the Year, Jesse Kriel, meanwhile, has been named on the bench. Kriel missed the Bulls win against the Rebels two weeks ago due to a head clash in training, but has been cleared to take the field against the leading South African team in the competition. He will replace Dries Swanepoel.

“Jamba was one of our star players last year and deserves an opportunity. We have good depth amongst our outside backs and I am happy to give Jamba a run against the Sharks,” Marais explained.

"To have a bye this early in the competition has pros and cons, but we decided to look at it in a positive way. It gave us time to work on the aspects of our game that was shown up by the Stormers and Rebels and it gave the likes of Jesse a chance to get match-fit again. The Sharks will arrive at Loftus with a lot of momentum and confidence, but we need to put a stop to that if we want to be successful," Marais said.

"We played with great spark in the first half against both the Stormers and Rebels, but our efforts in the second half of those matches did not deliver the same intensity and desire and that is something we worked on during the bye."

Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss made it clear that his side is keen to get back to the field.

"The tournament has already showed why it is such a great one for players and spectators alike. There has been some great games so far and we can't wait to become part of the action again this weekend. This will be another typical South African derby with no mercy being given or asked. The Sharks have been great so far and will provide us with a massive test. But we would not want it any other way and to front that challenge in front of our home support will certainly spur us on."

Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane 
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel

Date: Friday, March 18
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Kick-off: 19:00 local (17:00 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Stuart Berry, Rasta Rasivhenge
TMO: Willie Vos

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