Matfield returns at lock and captain for Vodacom Bulls

Rugby - 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby - Bulls v Hurricanes - Loftus Versfeld

 

The most capped South African Vodacom Super Rugby player ever, Victor Matfield, is back at the helm of the Vodacom Bulls when they take on the Emirates Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Matfield, who last captained the Vodacom Bulls in the opening round of the competition, will return at lock following successful knee surgery that kept him out of action for a month to play in his 145th match, replacing Grant Hattingh who drops to the bench.

Also back in the match XV that shows five changes to the run-on side that took the field at DHL Newlands last weekend, is Jan Serfontein, Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne and Trevor Nyakane.
Serfontein is back following a late withdrawal from the DHL Stormers match, whilst Botha, Labuschagne and Nyakane are all promoted off the bench into the starting team.

The Springbok midfielder replaces Burger Odendaal, who drops to the bench in place of Akona Ndungane, whilst Botha swops places with Pierre Spies at the back of the scrum. Nyakane starts in place of Dean Greyling.
Labuschagne replaces Deon Stegmann, who is rested after 10 consecutive starts.
Prop Andrew Beerwinkel could also make his debut as he is named on the bench.

“We are getting into the rhythm to play the type of match we want to play,” Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said when he announced the team in Pretoria on Thursday.
“Our defence structure is good and we are very competitive in every match we play. We need to tweak some aspects of our game though, but I am confident that we are creating a style of play that will make us contenders in the play-off stages of the competition. All said, we need to show up against the Emirates Lions, who have shown their endurance and determination week after week.”

Matfield, who will captain the side for a South African and franchise record 84 times, pointed to the experience of his team.

“We are facing a team who expresses their personality on the field, but we are also a squad that are proud of being the most successful local franchise ever. You are only as good as your last match though and we came up short then. We need a solid performance before we go on tour, so a win is pretty much non-negotiable.”

AFGRI is one of the proud sponsors to Dorp van die Jaar 2015 – follow proceedings on Kwêla on kykNET (channel 144)

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Vodacom Bulls Fitness Report – presented by Medihelp

Rugby - 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby - Bulls v Stormers - Loftus Versfeld

Springboks back for Bulls

Incumbent Springboks Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein and Handré Pollard is fit again and will be considered for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Cell C Sharks in Durban.

According to Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss, all three are ready to travel to the East Coast, along with Lappies Labuschagne, who recovered from his shoulder injury that kept him out of action for the matches against the Crusaders, Lions and Reds.

Strauss was rested against the Reds per SARU agreement, while Serfontein last played against the Force and Pollard against the Crusaders.

A number of players, Jacques-Louis Potgieter (hamstring), Marcel van der Merwe (ankle), Burger Odendaal (contusion), Bjorn Basson (ankle) and Morné Mellett (back spasm) did not train on Monday, but will be back on Tuesday, Strauss confirmed. Akona Ndungane has also recovered from a broken hand.

Victor Matfield (knee, two to three weeks), Travis Ismaiel (ribs, 20 April) and William Small-Smith (foot, 20 April) will return before month’s end.

Pierre Schoeman, Bandise Maku, Carlo Engelbrecht, Werner Kruger, Duncan Matthews, Ruan Steenkamp and Ryan Nell are all still on the long-term injury list.