Former Junior Springboks winger, Travis Ismaiel is back in the Vodacom Bulls starting line-up that will face the Southern Kings at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday after recovering from injury.
The 25-year old picked up an injury against the Crusaders early in May, but takes over his regular spot from Kefense Mahlo for the match in one of two backline changes to the side that beat the Cell C Sharks in Durban last weekend.
In the other, Tian Schoeman has been promoted off the bench and will start at flyhalf in place of injured Tony Jantjies.
There are some new faces on the bench for this match, with two more players set to make their debut for the Vodacom Bulls. Flyhalf Tinus de Beer will provide cover off the bench for Schoeman and could make a first start in the tournament, while Ruben van Heerden has also been named in the match day squad for the first time.
The lock was part of the bronze medal winning Junior Springboks team in Tbilisi earlier this year and this progression into the Vodacom Bulls will be another highlight in his season.
He comes in for Renaldo Bothma, who broke his arm in Durban last weekend.
Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais said the team is determined to finish well at home.
“The result away from home last weekend was a huge relief. We came close a number of times on the road, but never played as convincingly as last weekend. The challenge will be to repeat that performance at home. We have not offered our support base at Loftus much to cheer about this year, especially by losing our last three matches at home. We now have two more chances to get it right.”
Vodacom Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, agreed.
“There is massive pride in playing for this team, even when results did not come our way. We are still a proud group of players and would love nothing more than building on what we achieved in Durban. The Southern Kings are probably one of the most dangerous teams in the competition and clearly enjoy playing with and for each other. We are close to that synergy and I have a feeling it could happen this weekend. If so, the crowd will be part of an awesome match, no doubt. We do play for ourselves, but equally so for our supporters. We owe it to them and to ourselves.”
The team (with Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (17, 25), Travis Ismaiel (26, 40), Jesse Kriel (43, 25), Jan Serfontein (58, 85), Duncan Matthews (2, 5), Tian Schoeman (33, 128), Rudy Paige (46, 5), Nic de Jager (17, 15), Jannes Kirsten (26, 10), Ruan Steenkamp (9, 0), RG Snyman (23, 10), Jason Jenkins (26, 15), Conrad van Vuuren (4, 0), Adriaan Strauss (c; 141 70), Lizo Gqoboka (24, 5), Replacements: Jaco Visagie (18, 0), Pierre Schoeman (22, 5), John-Roy Jenkinson (2, 0), Ruben van Heerden (0, 0), Shaun Adendorff (1, 0), Andre Warner (1, 0), Tinus de Beer (0, 0), Burger Odendaal (31, 15).
- Adriaan Strauss is extending his record as most capped South African hooker in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament to 142 matches.
- Tinus de Beer and Ruben van Heerden could make their Vodacom Super Rugby and Vodacom Bulls debuts for the team, should they take to the field. They will be the 45th and 46th player used by the team this season.