Vodacom Bulls coach, Pote Human, named Handré Pollard at flyhalf and captain for Friday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
The pivot missed the last two matches on tour due to injury, but returns in a much-changed backline from the one that drew against the Blues a week ago.
Divan Rossouw (for Warrick Gelant) and Dylan Sage (for Rosko Specman) will join Pollard (replacing Manie Libbok) in the starting line-up. Sage will move to outside centre, while Johnny Kotze moves one out in place of the injured Specman.
Human also recalled Embrose Papier to partner Pollard at halfback, with Ivan van Zyl moving to the bench and Andre Warner missing out.
The loose trio that finished the game against the Blues will start against the Highlanders.
Marco van Staden will play at no 8 in place of injured Paul Schoeman, with Hanro Liebenberg and Ruan Steenkamp on the side of the scrum. The tight five remains intact.
Johan Grobbelaar comes onto the bench as a loose forward.
Human said the tour provided some good results, but can only be seen a successful one if they get the desired outcome against the Highlanders.
“This is going to be very tough for us, but this group thrives on challenges. I think they last lost to a team from outside New Zealand in 2016, so we need to be at our very best if we want to change that statistic.”
Pollard said he is keen to get back onto the field.
“The short break was great and I am happy to be back. This is a great venue to play at and we are determined to make our visit a productive one. We last won here in 2007, so it is about time we change that.”
The team is (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points):
15. Divan Rossouw (24, 15)
14. Cornal Hendricks (38, 65)
13. Dylan Sage (8, 0)
12. Burger Odendaal (54, 30)
11. Johnny Kotze (44, 45)
10. Handré Pollard (c; 57, 598)
9. Embrose Papier (22, 5)
8. Marco van Staden (23, 15)
7. Hanro Liebenberg (41, 30)
6. Ruan Steenkamp (18, 0)
5. RG Snyman (46, 10)
4. Jason Jenkins (50, 35)
3. Trevor Nyakane (105, 15)
2. Schalk Brits (73, 20)
1. Lizo Gqoboka (51, 15)
16. Jaco Visagie (44, 5)
17. Simphiwe Matanzima (14)
18. Wiehahn Herbst (47, 0)
19. Jannes Kirsten (29, 20)
20. Johannes Grobbelaar (3, 0)
21. Ivan van Zyl (28, 35)
22. Manie Libbok (16, 50)
23. JT Jackson (2, 0)