Vodacom Bulls Executive Rugby and Head Coach, John Mitchell, on Wednesday announced his first wider training squad for the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season and included new signings Frans van Wyk and Thembelani Bholi (flank) in the group that will assemble for pre-season training.
Mitchell included a number of new faces to the squad as well as players still plying their trade in Japan, most notably locks RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins. Two Blitzboks, Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans, is also in the group, although preparing with the Springbok Sevens in Stellenbosch at the moment.
"We are all pretty excited to get the pre-season underway and start putting the hard yards in," Mitchell said. "The squad shows a good combination of old hands and young upstarts and they all know one thing, no spot in the final squad is guaranteed. Everyone will have to contribute and work very hard to make it into the final group and that will bring some competition in the squad, something that can only benefit us in the long run."
The Vodacom Bulls will play three warm-up matches in 2018. The squad will be split to face the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on 27 January, and the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane on the same day. They will then head out to a first-ever match in the USA, when they will face the DHL Stormers at Stub Hub Centre in Los Angeles on 3 February.
The wider squad is:
Props: Pierre Schoeman, Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Frans van Wyk, Mox Mxoli, Matthys Basson, Gerhard Steenekamp (Apprentice, injured).
Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle, Johan Grobbelaar, Jan-Henning Campher, Corniel Els (injured)
Locks: Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman (both Japan), Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Eli Snyman, Abongile Nonkontwana
Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter (Japan), Hanro Liebenberg, Ruan Steenkamp (injured), Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager (Japan), Hendré Stassen (injured), Marco van Staaden, Tim Agaba (SA Sevens), Thembelani Bholi, Shaun Adendorff, Boom Prinsloo, Denzil Hill (apprentice), Eduan Lubbe (apprentice), Jaco Bezuidenhout (apprentice), Kwezi Mafu (apprentice), Ryno Pieterse (apprentice).
Scrumhalves: Ivan van Zyl (injured), Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Theo Maree, Rudy Paige
Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Tony Jantjies, Tinus de Beer.
Midfielders: Jesse Kriel, Dries Swanepoel, Johnny Kotze, Ulrich Beyers, Stedman Gans (SA 7s), Burger Odendaal, Francois Brummer (Japan), JT Jackson (injured).
Outside backs: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Duncan Matthews, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude, Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser (apprentice).
The Vodacom Super Rugby Management team:
Head Coach and Defense: John Mitchell
Skills, attack and kicking: Hayden Groepes
Forward Coach & Lineouts: Pote Human
Forward Coach & Scrums: Gary Botha
Baggage and Kit Master: Elias Bennett
Team Doctor: Dr Herman Rossouw
Team Physios: Lance Lemmetjies & Pieter du Plessis
Senior Rehab specialist: Juandre Williams
Strength & Conditioning Coaches: Jacus Coetzee and Ghafoer Luckan
Technical Analysist at Super Rugby: John William Meyer