Johannesburg - Not content with their massive dominance at this year’s Craven Week tournament, the Blue Bulls Company has quietly assembled one of the best line-ups of schoolboy stars for their under-19 team in 2013, having snatched up almost every available schoolboy star in the country.
SuperSport.com reports that while there was a lot of hype surrounding the Bulls coup to sign SA under-20 flyhalf Handré Pollard, the union have also quietly ensured that the majority of their Craven Week team - who won all three their games at the schoolboy week by large margins - are contracted for the coming seasons.
But in addition to this they have snatched up some of the finest schoolboy talent as well to give themselves a squad that in schoolboy rugby terms comes close to an SA Schools squad on its own.
Pollard’s signature has meant that the Bulls pivot at Craven Week Ryno Eksteen decided to join Western Province and will be heading South along with Steve Meiring at the end of their schoolboy careers.
But while these two players will be seen as a loss, the Bulls have more than made up for it by signing a plethora of stars including the impressive Maritzburg College twins Daniel and Jesse Kriel.
While only Jesse made the SA Schools trial squad, both are highly rated across the country and will be expected to perform once they get to Pretoria.
The same goes for Free State hooker Corniel Els, Golden Lions flank Chris Massyn and his Western Province counterpart Corné Cooper. All three have been confirmed as Bulls as from 2013, and will be joined by Pumas scrumhalf Kobus Wolmarans, Boland prop Wilco Louw and three Western Province Academy Week players - Arno van Wyk, Justin Basson and Leighton van Wyk.
The Bulls have also signed the Queens College halfback pair of Josh Stander and halfback JP Smith - who were spitefully left out of the Border Craven Week squad when officials found out they had pledged their future to the Pretoria union. Both played for Border at the 2011 Craven Week.
These players will join 11 of the Bulls Craven Week squad already signed, with several others due to pledge their future to the Bulls, but who are still in Grade 11 at this moment and have not turned 18 yet.
One of those is the impressive scrumhalf Justin Phillips, who still has a year of school to go at Waterkloof but has already pledged his future to the Blue Bulls after he finishes.
Interestingly the Bulls had also signed Monument flyhalf Jako van der Walt, but released him from his contract when he had a change of heart, apparently after he heard about Pollard’s signature.
Confirmed signings (Craven Week provinces in brackets):
Blue Bulls: Jaco Hayward, Marcus Kleinbooi, Rohan Jansen van Rensburg, Caswell Khoza, Heinrich Viljoen, Thabo Mabuza, Janse van Rensburg, Johan Bannink, Pierre Schoeman, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Bobby de Wee.
Free State: Corniel Els
WP: Handré Pollard, Corné Cooper, Arno van wyk, Leighton van Wyk, Justin Basson
SWD: Piet-Louw Strauss
Golden Lions: Chris Massyn
Boland: Wilco Louw
Pumas: Kobus Wolmarancs.
KZN: Daniel Kriel, Jesse Kriel, Carel Swart
Border: Josh Stander, JP Smith