Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar has named all his returning Springboks involved in the Castle Rugby Championship for Saturday's crucial Absa Currie Cup clash against the MTN Lions in Johannesburg.
The Blue Bulls need to win at Coca-Cola Park, most probably with a bonus point, in order to qualify for an away semi-final spot.
Zane Kirchner, Mornè Steyn, Flip van der Merwe, Juandrè Kruger and Francois Hougaard will all play in the competition for the first time this year.
Kirchner will start at fullback, Steyn will play at flyhalf and Kruger and Van der Merwe will lock the pack. Hougaard starts off the bench in a utility role which also allowed Pienaar the option of having five forwards on the bench.
Arno Botha, who joined the Springboks last week and missed the win over DHL Western Province, is back at No 8 and will be joined by a returning Jacques Potgieter, who played for the Blue Bulls in a solitary start three weeks ago.
Pienaar was very pleased on his selection options, but emphasized that the returning players do not guarantee success against the defending champions on their home turf.
"All the teams will use their returning Springboks this weekend, so we are not in a unique or fortunate position. We are privileged though to have guys back who really care about the daisy, the team and each other. We had no problem with the returning players slotting back in and I really look forward to the weekend. It is no secret that we are in dire straits in the competition, but if ever there were players I would have nominated to help, I have just named them in the team," the coach said.
The team is: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Mornè Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Arno Botha, Jacques Potgieter, Dewald Potgieter (c), Flip van der Merwe, Juandrè Kruger, Werner Kruger, Willie Wepener, Mornè Mellett. REPLACEMENTS: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Frik Kirsten, Wilhelm Steenkamp, CJ Stander, Francois Hougaard, Louis Fouchè, Dean Greyling.