Every South African rugby fan will shift their attention to Loftus Versveld, Pretoria this Saturday at the Super Rugby Unlocked the latest game between the Blue Bulls and The Sharks; both with plenty of pride to play for in this South African rugby derby.
Both Bulls and Sharks have a vast blend of youth and experience, as both teams are leading contenders to lift the South African Super Rugby Unlocked trophy this year.
In many previous encounters, both games have played down to the wire, where most players are working to solidify their positions in the South African Springboks rugby squad.
The most notable match between these two sides goes back to the 2007 Super Rugby Final. The Blue Bulls became the first South African rugby team to win Super Rugby at the expense of beating The Sharks at home in Durban.
The iconic moment before the win was the Bryan Habana try, scored right after the hooter called the game, bringing complete silence to the sold-out Kings Park Stadium, in Durban.
While at that time, The Sharks looked to have secured the victory leading 19-13 after 80 minutes, a moment of individual brilliance by the South African rugby legend, Habana, became the stepping stone for a well-decorated and successful rugby career.
Both Blue Bulls and Sharks coaches see this Super Rugby Unlocked encounter as a must-win for both sides. Coach Jake White and Coach Sean Everitt have opted for experience on this occasion, as both captains played a vital role in the Springboks 2019 Rugby World Cup success.
Bulls captain, Duane Vermeulen, was named Man Of The Match in the Rugby World Cup Final, and his opposing captain, Lukhanyo Am, gave the perfect pass en route to South Africa’s triumph at the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
The Blue Bulls have plenty of ammunition, with big names such as fly-half, Morne Steyn aged 36; the second-highest Springbok test point scorer, offering plenty of experience to his Bulls teammates.
However, his opposing Sharks fly-half, Curwin Bosch, does come across as the next Springbok superstar. Curwin offers plenty of excitement in the attack; the 2-cap Springbok will most definitely seeking the upper hand over a legendary former Springbok.
At the back of the scrum, The Sharks have the in-form Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who has impressed the rugby world with his speed as a loose forward. Despite his talent, Notshe has a large mountain to climb, as he faces his duel against the power of Blue Bulls, Duane Vermeulen.
As both Number 8’s are in strong contention for Springbok starting positions, will we see the change of the old guards on Saturday?
Super Rugby Unlocked Team Line Ups:
Bulls: David Kriel; Travis Ismaiel, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl; Duane Vermeulen (c), Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Johan Grobbelaar, Jacques van Rooyen.
Reserves: Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp, Trevor Nyakane, Sintu Manjezi, Arno Botha, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Sharks: Manie Libbok, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am (c), Marius Louw, Werner Kok, Curwin Bosch, Sanele Nohamba, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Phepsi Buthelezi, James Venter, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit, Dylan Richardson, Ox Nche.
Reserves: Kerron van Vuuren, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, JJ van der Mescht, Henco Venter, Grant Williams, Jeremy Ward, Yaw Penxe.
As Saturday’s kickoff draws closer, both teams look evenly matched on paper. The blend of Sevens rugby players, youth and experience, will make for an exciting encounter, plenty of tries, and both teams having everything to play for.
I am excited to see a new chapter in South African rugby after this epic encounter. This Super Rugby Unlocked fixture will be more than just a traditional South African derby.
The scoreboard will be ticking continuously and both sides discipline will determine the winner of this match. I predict The Sharks to prevail victorious by 5 points, in what will be a game where the lead may change many times.
Will the Blue Bulls give the Sharks their first defeat at this Super Rugby Unlocked game this weekend? Or will this Sharks side expose the flaws in the Bulls defence?
For the best sports content and latest news, follow @WorldInSport on Twitter