Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke included fit-again Jan Serfontein and Francois Hougaard in his starting team and former Junior Springbok lock Paul Willemse on the bench for his side’s Vodacom Super Rugby semifinal match against the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
All three players recovered from the injuries that kept them out of the last league fixture against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town two weeks ago.
Serfontein replaces Francois Venter in the midfield and Hougaard’s inclusion comes at the expense of Jano Vermaak, who will move to the bench, where he replaces Rudy Paige.
Willemse replaces Jacques du Plessis, who made his debut in Cape Town.
“We have worked hard to put ourselves in a position where we could host a semifinal at home and achieved that. We cannot allow all that effort to go to waste on Saturday,” Ludeke said.
“We certainly respect the Brumbies as an opponent, but this match will be about us and our ability and drive to make them play the game at our tempo and to our game plan. For that we will need to be accurate and execute the big plays well,” the coach said.
Vodacom Bulls captain, Dewald Potgieter, encouraged the home supporters to help them over the line.
“We have great fans and we love doing well in front of them. It is going to be a game of margins on Saturday and if we have our support base behind us, we will be able to edge ahead. We have to play the right type of rugby at the right times in the match and I am confident of that. We have experience in play-offs and we have big game players, so we will be ready,” Potgieter said.
The Vodacom Bulls team (with Super Rugby caps) is:
Zane Kirchner (81), Akona Ndungane (95), JJ Engelbrecht (32), Jan Serfontein (11), Bjorn Basson ((54), Mornè Steyn (122), Francois Hougaard ((55), Dewald Potgieter (66, c), Jacques Potgieter (22), Deon Stegmann (74), Grant Hattingh (20), Flip van der Merwe (62), Werner Kruger (91), Chiliboy Ralepelle (68), Dean Greyling (37). Replacements: Callie Visagie (22), Frik Kirsten (30), Mornè Mellett (11), Paul Willemse (5), Jono Ross (3), Jano Vermaak (103), Jürgen Visser (11).
•Mornè Steyn will extend his Vodacom Bulls franchise record for most appearances (122) and could also improve on his scoring records for most points (1431), penalties (269), conversions (242) and dropped goals (25).
•Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane and Werner Kruger will also improve on their appearances records at fullback, wing and prop respectively.
•Kirchner, Ndungane, Steyn, Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Stegmann, Van der Merwe, Kruger and Ralepelle have all played in semifinals before.