Marcel van der Merwe and Dean Greyling will earn first starts in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition as Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made three changes to his pack that will face the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Van der Merwe and Greyling, who both made late starts to the competition due to injury, will swop places with Trevor Nyakane and Mornè Mellett respectively. In other swop, Grant Hattingh will earn his first start of the season and Victor Matfield will move to the bench.
The bench also have two new faces this week, with Arno Botha returning and Jaco Visagie replacing the injured Callie Visagie. Should he take to the field, Visagie will make his Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Super Rugby debut.
Botha, who was injured in the season’s opener against the DHL Stormers, is fit again and replaces Hanro Liebenberg.
Ludeke left his backs unchanged.
“We are good to go after a week’s rest and determined to maintain the momentum the last two wins have created,” Ludeke said. “We have made some changes to the pack, but its part of the rotational policy. All three players deserve a start. We are also happy to see Arno back in full force.”
Vodacom Bulls captain, Pierre Spies, warned that the Force cannot be underestimated, given the closeness of results between the teams in the past.
“We always seem to be in tight matches against each other. The trick for us will be to play the big moments better and to execute whenever we create scoring opportunities.”
The team (with Super Rugby caps) is: Jesse Kriel (5), Francois Hougaard (76), JJ Engelbrecht (53), Jan Serfontein (32), Bjorn Basson (75), Handrè Pollard (17), Rudy Paige (11), Pierre Spies (c, 107), Lappies Labuschagne (31), Deon Stegmann (83), Grant Hattingh (38), Jacques du Plessis (19), Marcel van der Merwe (21), Adriaan Strauss (109), Dean Greyling (57).Replacements: Jaco Visagie (0), Mornè Mellett (28), Trevor Nyakane (46), Victor Matfield (142), Arno Botha (23), Piet van Zyl (47), Tian Schoeman (1), Jurgen Visser (27).
- There are three centurions in the match day squad. Victor Matfield 142 (Bulls 134 & Cats 8); Adriaan Strauss 109 (Cheetahs 97, Bulls 12) and Pierre Spies 107 (all Bulls)
- Coach Frans Ludeke will extend his Vodacom Super Rugby as most experienced coach ever – He has coached the Vodacom Bulls in 113 matches and the Cats in 24 for a tally of 137.
- Victor Matfield will extend his SA record as most capped Super Rugby player to 143 and his Vodacom Bulls record to 135. It also is his 16th season of Vodacom Super Rugby, a record he shares with Tony Brown and Tana Umaga.
- In the regular season, the Bulls have won their last 15 at home to Australian sides, last losing in February 2007; however that defeat was inflicted by the Force.
- The Bulls have the best ruck success rate this year (96%) in the competition.