Flanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when they take on Saracens in a friendly match outside London. The Blue Bulls named their final travelling squad on Wednesday, just before departure to England.
Regular captain Pierre Spies will only play off the bench in his return to first class rugby after more than 12 months on the sidelines; hence the decision to employ Stegmann's proven leadership skills. The former Springbok flanker captained the Vodacom Blue Bulls with great success in the Absa Currie Cup competition in the past.
Another former captain, Victor Matfield, will travel to London as part of the coaching team and not as a player and will not be in action over the weekend.
A number of Matfield's Springbok team members who travelled to Europe in November will start the match, but flyhalf Handre Pollard will only be used of the bench as the playmaker has just recovered from a foot injury.
Jan Serfontein and Francois Hougaard will start, as well as Trevor Nyakane, who missed the season-opening friendly against the Cheetahs last weekend due to a back spasm.
"We are keen for a competitive outing that will test our combinations selected for this match," Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said. "We will be looking to give a number of subs some game time, but we’ll also be aware that momentum will be important during the match."
The Vodacom Bulls team is: Jurgen Visser, Jamba Ulengo, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Hanro Liebenberg, Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Mornè Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Dayan vd Westhuizen, RG Snyman, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Roelof Smith, Pierre Spies, Piet van Zyl, Rudy Paige, Handrè Pollard, William Small-Smith, Duncan Matthews, Jesse Kriel.
Kick-off is at 17h15 SA time.
• The Vodacom Blue Bulls will also play with the J9 Foundation's logo on their sleeve to create awareness for MND. The foundation, named after former Vodacom Bulls captain, Joost van der Westhuizen, is doing great work to create awareness for Motor Neuron Disease.
Claire Kaye-Grobler, from the J9 foundation: “Events like the up coming friendly game between Saracens and the Vodacom Blue Bulls are absolutely crucial in the global fight against MND, this disease is an otherwise forgotten about disease with no cure and no cause, it therefore discriminates against no one and we thus need people to stand up now and push for researchers to find a cure or cause and this will only happen with awareness.”