Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke picked Francois Venter to replace injured midfielder Jan Serfontein when he named his side to take on the DHL Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
Serfontein injured his knee in the Bulls win over The Sharks last week.
Venter, who came off the bench earlier in the season when the Bulls beat the Stormers 22-17 at Loftus Versfeld, has recovered from a groin operation and will be rearing to go.
Jano Vermaak is also back in the number nine jumper following Francois Hougaard’s ankle injury and the 102-match veteran’s place on the bench will be taken by Rudy Paige.
The suspension of Wilhelm Steenkamp opened the door for 19 year old Jacques du Plessis, who could make his debut for the Vodacom Bulls after he was included as replacement-lock.
“We have one more box to tick to reach our goal of finishing top of the log after regular play,” Ludeke said on Wednesday.
“I am pleased to include someone like Swys (Venter) as he has proved himself at this level and will be itching to play after a successful recovery from his groin operation. We are all very excited for Jacques. He has been training with us all season and he will be very keen to use this opportunity. Jano’s form has earned him a test cap this season, so he will be keen to stamp his authority on the match,” Ludeke said.
According to Vodacom Bulls captain, Dewald Potgieter, his team will have to make a step-up in their approach and execution if they want to beat the Stormers and finish the season top of the log.
“We did not react well in certain situations when placed under pressure last weekend and will have to improve on that. The Stormers have momentum and the home crowd on their side and this being the big North/South derby we will have to front up. It is fair to say that this will be our biggest test this season.”
The Vodacom Bulls team (with Super Rugby caps) is: Zane Kirchner (80), Akona Ndungane (94), JJ Engelbrecht (31), Francois Venter (10), Bjorn Basson (53), Morné Steyn (121), Jano Vermaak (102), Dewald Potgieter (65, c), Jacques Potgieter (21), Deon Stegmann (73), Grant Hattingh (19), Flip van der Merwe (61), Werner Kruger (90), Chiliboy Ralepelle (67), Dean Greyling (36). Replacements: Callie Visagie (21), Frik Kirsten (29), Morné Mellet (10), Jacques du Plessis (0), Jono Ross (2), Rudy Paige (3), Jürgen Visser (10).
•Morné Steyn will extend his record as most capped Vodacom Bulls player ever to 122 matches. He can also extend his South African points' records total (1423), number of penalties (267), conversions (241) and dropped goals (25).
•Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane and Werner Kruger will extend the franchise record for appearances at fullback, wing and prop.
•Should he take to the field, Jacques du Plessis will make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut.