Vodacom Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe has been passed fit to face the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday and will lead the team for their third tour match to Australasia.
This will be the first of two matches the Vodacom Bulls will play in Australia as part of their Vodacom Super Rugby tour.
Van der Merwe got injured in last weekend’s bonus point loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin, but has recovered sufficiently from his arm injury to lead the team.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named the same starting team that played in Dunedin, but made one change on the bench, where Rudy Paige will act as scrumhalf cover. Should Paige takes to the field it will be his first appearance in the competition this year.
“We are very keen to get back on the winning trail. We had opportunities in Napier and Dunedin, but could not convert enough of those to secure us victory. We have played well in patches, so will be looking for a solid performance in Sydney,” Ludeke said.
“We realise we are facing one of the leading teams in the competitions in the Waratahs, who has been playing great rugby this season, but also know that we are very hard to beat if we stay in our structures, rhythm and manage to keep the ball.”
Van der Merwe said they owe it to themselves to deliver on Saturday.
“We are desperate for a win and the only way we will achieve that is by showing up and playing to our potential on Saturday. We have ambitions in this tournament, but we need to make a stronger statement about that than we have done up to now.
The team to play the Waratahs (with Super caps) is: Jurgen Visser (19), Bjorn Basson (63), JJ Engelbrecht (41), Jan Serfontein (20), Francois Hougaard (64), Jacques-Louis Potgieter (48), Piet van Zyl (39), Grant Hattingh (27), Jacques du Plessis (9), Jono Ross (11), Victor Matfield (131), Flip van der Merwe (69, c), Werner Kruger (100), Callie Visagie (31), Dean Greyling (46). Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi (8), Marcel van der Merwe (23), Morné Mellett (16), Paul Willemse (12), Jacques Engelbrecht (20), Rudy Paige (4), Handré Pollard (6), William Small-Smith (1).
•Victor Matfield will become the most capped Vodacom Bulls player in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition in playing in his 124th match for the franchise. He surpasses Mornè Steyn (123 matches). Matfield is also the most experienced South African in Super Rugby (131 matches), having played for the Cats in his debut season. He is also the most experienced South African captain in Super Rugby, having captained the Vodacom Bulls 77 times.
•Francois Hougaard is one try away from 100 Vodacom Super Rugby points.
•Rudy Paige will play in his first Vodacom Super Rugby match of the season, should he take to the field.