The return to fitness of flanker Deon Stegmann, fullback Jürgen Visser and midfielder Wynand Olivier prompted Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke to make three changes to his side for their clash against the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Stegmann recovered from bruised ribs and will again wear the number 6 jersey in this Vodacom Super Rugby match, with Dewald Potgieter moving to the other side of the scrum where he replaces Arno Botha.
Botha moves to the bench, where he will find two new faces. Frik Kirsten is back from his elbow strain and replaces Hencus van Wyk and Grant Hattingh’s broken thumb has healed. He will take Wilhelm Steenkamp’s place on the bench.
Kirsten only missed last weekend’s action, but Hattingh last played for the Bulls against the Reds in Brisbane.
Olivier has recovered from a knee injury sustained against the Crusaders during the Australasian tour and will replace Jan Serfontein, who has a niggle and will be rested.
Jürgen Visser was a late withdrawal from the Bulls side to beat the Waratahs last weekend and was replaced by Ulrich Beyers. He has now being declared fit and will start at fullback in place of Beyers.
Coach Frans Ludeke was looking for a solid performance ahead of the team’s bye next week.
“We are in control of our own destiny at this stage and that is exactly where we want to be. This means that we are doing some things right, but we all realise that we are also not accurate enough in other phases.”
Ludeke was happy with the work done this week in the set-pieces and acknowledge this as an area where they traditionally attacked the Hurricanes.
“They are a very dangerous side when there is broken field and open play, so we need to make sure we dominate territory and possession and win the gain line battle.”
Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies said that their defence will hold the key.
“We will have to be strong in defence. We leaked some unnecessary tries last weekend and we are not happy about that. The Hurricanes are known for their fantastic attack, so we need a very disciplined and determined approach on defence.”
The Vodacom Bulls team (with number of Super Rugby caps) is: Jürgen Visser (5), Akona Ndungane (89), JJ Engelbrecht (25), Wynand Olivier (107), Bjorn Basson (47), Mornè Steyn (115), Jano Vermaak (97), Pierre Spies (98, c), Dewald Potgieter (59), Deon Stegmann (67), Juandrè Kruger (26), Flip van der Merwe (56), Werner Kruger (84), Chiliboy Ralepelle (61), Dean Greyling (32). REPLACEMENTS: Willie Wepener (60), Frik Kirsten (23), Grant Hattingh (14), Arno Botha (18), Francois Hougaard (49), Louis Fouchè (18), Lionel Mapoe (36).
•Mornè Steyn will equal the career record of most appearances for the Vodacom Bulls in Super Rugby. The record of 116 matches is held by Victor Matfield and Danie Rossouw. Steyn is already the most experienced Vodacom Bulls backline player of all times.
•Steyn could also extend a number of his 1333 Vodacom Super Rugby career points. Already the second highest points’ scorer of all time in the competition and the second player past 1300 career points, the flyhalf could improve on his South African records of 249 penalties, 223 conversions and the tournament record of 25 drop goals. He has also scored 13 tries.
•Francois Hougaard will play in his 50th match for the Vodacom Bulls if he takes the field
•Flip van der Merwe will play in his 50th match for the Vodacom Bulls. He also played six times for the Toyota Cheetahs