Former Junior Springbok lock, Eli Snyman and former Blitzbok, Dylan Sage, will make first starts for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday when they take on the Emirates Lions in a Vodacom Super Rugby derby in Johannesburg.
Snyman comes in for regular captain, Lood de Jager, who will miss the Jukskei derby due to injury, while Handré Pollard will lead the team at Emirates Airline Park.Sage replaces Burger Odendaal and will form a new midfield combination with Jesse Kriel.
Vodacom Bulls coach, Pote Human also made changes to the bench.
Jannes Kirsten slots into the lock berth vacated by Snyman on the bench, while Tim Agaba also gets a run from the bench in place of Thembelani Bholi. Divan Rossouw takes the backline spot vacated by Sage.
Duane Vermeulen will take over the leadership role in the forwards in place of De Jager, who will be out of action for two weeks.
According to Human, the margin of error in the competition is such that they need to play a perfect match against their Gauteng foes.
“We got punished last weekend by not retaining our ball on attack and against the Lions, who are so ruthless on counter-attack, we cannot afford to do so again. They are at home for the first time and will come out all guns blazing, no doubt. This is going to be a typical derby, where the winner will have to gut this out.”
Pollard agrees. “We need to outwork, outplay and out guts the Lions. They are such a determined side and deservedly topped the South African conference over the last couple of years. That said, we see this as an exciting opportunity to take a step forward as a group. We have to, if we want to make our hard work leading into the competition, pay off.”
Kick-off is at 15h05.
The team (with caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (36, 60), Cornal Hendricks (28, 55), Jesse Kriel (63, 80), Dylan Sage (2, 0), Rosko Specman (2, 10), Handré Pollard (c; 48, 469), Embrose Papier (12, 5), Duane Vermeulen (v/c; 111, 40), Hanro Liebenberg (30, 15), Ruan Steenkamp (13, 0), Eli Snyman (2, 0), Jason Jenkins (42, 35), Trevor Nyakane (93, 15), Schalk Brits, Lizo Gqoboka (39, 10). Replacements: Corniel Els (2, 0), Simphiwe Matanzima (2, 0), Dayan van der Westhuizen (12, 0), Jannes Kirsten (18, 10), Tim Agaba (1,0), Ivan van Zyl (19, 0), Manie Libbok (9, 13), Divan Rossouw (14, 15).