Springboks Schalk Brits and Jason Jenkins are back in the Vodacom Bulls pack for their Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening, when the Pretoria outfit will be eager to put in another good performance following their 28-21 home win over the Waratahs last weekend.
Brits has served a four week suspension and will start at hooker, while Jenkins is fit again following an injury layoff and will run out at lock. They boost an already powerful pack, where a great battle is expected seeing that both sets of forwards are stacked with experienced international players.
Like Brits, Jenkins last played for the Vodacom Bulls in their 19-16 win over the Cell C Sharks at the end of March. Brits replaces Jaco Visagie and Jenkins takes the place of Jannes Kirsten. Visagie drops to the bench while Kirsten is handed the No 7 jersey in place of the injured Hanro Liebenberg.
In a rotational switch in the backline, Ivan van Zyl drops out of the match 23 and is replaced by André Warner at scrumhalf, while Embrose Papier is included amongst the replacements. Experienced midfielder Burger Odendaal, a late withdrawal last week against the Waratahs, has been declared fit and starts in the midfield alongside Johnny Kotze, with Dylan Sage dropping out.
The Vodacom Bulls have won five of their last six outings in Pretoria against the defending champions, which includes semi-final victories in 2009 and 2010, although they succumbed to a 62-24 defeat the last time the Crusaders visited Loftus Versfeld, in 2017.
The Crusaders, on the other hand, have won seven from their last eight games in South Africa, including all four of their previous outings in the Republic. The team from Canterbury were held to a thrilling 21-21 home draw last week by the Cell C Sharks.
Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard has succeeded with 48 goal kicks so far this season, the most by any player in the competition, and the Springbok pivot will once more be key figure for the team in light blue jerseys.
What they said:
Vodacom Bulls head coach Pote Human welcomed the return of his two Springboks in the pack: “Schalk has been itching to play for the last couple of weeks and he will be very keen. Jason also recovered well and looked very sharp in training. Both are players of international standard, so it is great to have them back. Our pack will need to step up to the plate if we want to contain the Crusaders and these two are certainly capable of adding to that.”
Head to head:
Vodacom Bulls won: 10
Crusaders won: 16
Vodacom Bulls points: 613
Crusaders points: 864
Average score: 24-33
Date: Friday, 10 May
SA time: 19h10
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Egon Seconds
Television Match Official: Willie Vos