Vodacom Bulls coach, Pote Human, named Hanro Liebenberg and Warrick Gelant in his starting team to play the Rebels at AAMI Stadium in Melbourne on Friday.
Both players missed last weekend’s clash against the Crusaders due to injury, but is ready to make a big impression as the Pretoria outfit open a four week tour to Australasia.
Gelant comes in for Divan Rossouw at fullback, while Liebenberg takes over from Jannes Kirsten at flank.
Rossouw and Kirsten drop to the bench as utility back and forward respectively, with Dylan Sage and Thembelani Bholi missing out on the opening tour match.
In another change to the pack, Paul Schoeman starts at blindside in place of Marco van Staden, who moves to the bench.
Human said they need to start the tour well.
“Our performance against the Rebels will be a crucial indicator of our prospects for the rest of the season. We need to start the tour well, but more importantly, we need to get some self-respect back after our poor showing in front of the Loftus faithful last weekend. We owe it to them, but also ourselves to show some intent and some desire to win this competition.”
Vodacom Bulls captain, Handré Pollard, said the Rebels have shown how good they are on preying on weaknesses in their opponents’ make-up.
“And to be fair, we showed that we have a couple of areas to improve upon. That said, the one thing about this squad you cannot fault is to take it on the chin and then just work harder. We all want to be there at the end of the race, we want to play in the knock-out phase and then the final. I believe we have the players to do exactly that,” he said.
The team is: Warrick Gelant (41, 70), Cornal Hendricks (35, 55), Johnny Kotze (41, 45), Burger Odendaal (51, 25), Rosko Specman (8, 20), Handré Pollard (56, 581), Andre Warner (15, 15), Duane Vermeulen (119, 50), Hanro Liebenberg (38, 20), Paul Schoeman (29, 35), Jason Jenkins (47, 35), RG Snyman (43, 10), Trevor Nyakane (102, 15), Schalk Brits (70, 20), Lizo Gqoboka (48, 15).
Replacements: Jaco Visagie (41, 5), Simphiwe Matanzima (11, 5), Wiehan Herbst (44, 0), Jannes Kirsten (27, 0), Marco van Staden (20, 15), Embrose Papier (20, 5), Manie Libbok (13, 33), Divan Rossouw (21, 15).
Note: The Vodacom Bulls won 5 of 6 against the Rebels, with their only defeat at AAMI Park in 2015.