Ludeke changes four in pack to face Cheetahs
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made four changes to his starting team that will face the Toyota Cheetahs in a Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The coach’s hand was forced through injury and the SARU rest agreement, which ruled all of Jan Serfontein, Handré Pollard, Deon Stegmann, Dean Greyling, Victor Matfield and Lappies Labuschagne out of contention for the final match of the tournament.
Matfield will be replaced by Grant Hattingh and Labuschagne by Arno Botha at flank, while Greyling’s place will be taken by Morné Mellett. Adriaan Strauss, who was rested last weekend against the Rebels, is back at hooker, with Callie Visagie moving to the bench.
Ludeke also called Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Roelof Smit into the squad again to cover for Deon Stegmann and Hattingh.
The backline remain unchanged from last week.
“We would like to finish the tournament with a strong performance. We did not reach all the targets we have set for ourselves as a team, but I am proud of the way we have played at times during the season. Unfortunately our away form again cost us,” Ludeke said.
Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies was adamant that they will deliver a good, final performance.
“The Cheetahs team will have nothing to lose and will certainly attack from all angles, but we are also very keen to end our season on a high. We are back at Loftus Versfeld for a last time this season and would like to give the supporters something to cheer about. That said, there is no time for emotional goodbyes, as we will have to play for 80 minutes to make sure we get the right result.”
The team (with Super caps) is: Jesse Kriel (16), Francois Hougaard (87), JJ Engelbrecht (64), Burger Odendaal (9), Travis Ismaiel (5), Jacques-Louis Potgieter (61), Rudy Paige (20), Pierre Spies (118, c), Jacques du Plessis (30), Arno Botha (32), Grant Hattingh (47), Flip van der Merwe (80), Marcel van der Merwe (32), Adriaan Strauss (117), Morné Mellett (36). Replacements: Callie Visagie (50), Trevor Nyakane (57), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (2), Roelof Smit (2), Bjorn Basson (85), Tian Schoeman (5), Jurgen Visser (31), Werner Kruger (112).
•JJ Engelbrecht will be the only player in the team who started in the same position in all 16 matches in 2015. Francois Hougaard also started in all 16 matches, but played left and right wing.
•Victor Matfield in 2015 extended two Vodacom Bulls records. He has played for the team 140 times and captained the team 84 times, both franchise records. His 148 appearances (8 for the Cats) is a national record for the tournament, as is the captaincy record.
•Frans Ludeke will extend his record as most experienced coach ever in Vodacom Super Rugby to 149, with 24 of those with the Cats and 124 with the Vodacom Bulls.