The Bulls may have lost the services of some serious second row muscle, but the three-time champions' back row suddenly looks very well stocked.
Having lost the likes of Bakkies Botha (to Toulon), Victor Matfield (retired, now an assistant coach) and Danie Rossouw (Suntory Sungoliath), the Bulls' will rely on Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe and Wilhelm Steenkamp as their starting second row. In the absence of the injured Fudge Mabeta, utility Daniel Adongo (an import from the Sharks) will provide cover.
However, it is a completely different picture when you look at the back row stock - where Adonga could also feature.
The Bulls have on their books players like Okkie Kruger, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques Potgieter, Jono Ross, CJ Stander, Deon Stegmann, Warwick Tecklenburg, Arno Botha, Pierre Spies, Jean Cook and Gerrit-Jan Van Velze.
Given that Pierre Spies, as captain, will be a certainty to start at No.8 and Stegmann has the inside line as the openside flank (No.6), there will be an almighty battle for the No.7 jersey.
And it is ironic that the two front runners to scrum down on the blindside are natives of Port Elizabeth, represented Eastern Province at some stage and are both called Potgieter - Dewald and Jacques.
The two HTS Daniel Pienaar schoolmates - Jacques was one year ahead of Dewald - are both all-action loose forwards who have virtually no regard for their own safety ... which seems to be a general trademark for men from the Algoa Bay region.
The 24-year-old Dewald is the incumbent in the No.7 jersey and has 46 caps at Super Rugby level, while the 25-year-old Jacques is looking to make his Super Rugby debut after a breakthrough season with the Bulls in the Currie Cup last year. Jacques can also play at No.8 and at lock (No.4).
The blonde tearaway, Dewald, will be the first to admit that 2011 was not his best season and Potgieter will be very keen to rectify that in 2012. Injuries and a loss of form resulted in him losing his spot on the Springbok roster and the hurt of that should manifest itself in his performances this time around. His versatility as a loose forward will also boost the Bulls.
Then there is Jacques, who is determined to hit the ground running in his first season of Super Rugby. An abrasive and aggressive player, Potgieter does not know how to take a backward step and opponents will soon learn about the former EP Kings player's bone-crushing defence. Having paid his dues in the lower echelons of the game, Potgieter will be keen to announce himself on the Super Rugby stage.
The Bulls' gains for 2012:
Lionel Cronje (Stormers/Western Province)
JJ Engelbrecht (Stormers/Western Province)
Johann Sadie (Stormers/Western Province)
Wilhelm Steenkamp (Free State Cheetahs)
Dawie Steyn (Pumas)
Daniel Adongo (Natal Sharks)
Jean Cook (Cheetahs)
Jano Vermaak (Lions)
Jacques Potgieter (EP Kings)
Willie Wepener (ASM Clermont)
* Wepener, Vermaak and Potgieter featured for the Bulls in the Currie Cup, but did not play Super Rugby for them in 2011.
The Bulls' losses for 2012:
Marnitz Boshoff (Griquas)
Bakkies Botha (Toulon)
Gary Botha (Toulouse)
Stephan Dippenaar (national Sevens Team)
Fourie Du Preez (Suntory Sungoliath)
Derick Kuün (Retired)
Victor Matfield (Retired)
Jaco Pretorius (Retired)
Danie Rossouw (Suntory Sungoliath)
Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse)
Gerhard van den Heever (Stormers/Western Province)
Stefan Watermeyer (Ospreys)
Francois Brummer (released)
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