Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, named a largely unchanged squad to face the Rebels in a Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The coach had to tweak his loose trio combination due to an injury to Hanro Liebenberg, with Marco van Staden moving from the side to the back of the scrum and Roelof Smit starting in the number six jersey again in the only change to the starting team in Durban last weekend.
Smit, who started on the bench in that match, Van Staden and Thembelani Bholi will start together as a combination for the first time this season, although they did so for most of the match in Durban after Liebenberg left the field injured.
Mitchell included Shaun Adendorff on the bench. Adendorff will make a first appearance for the Vodacom Bulls this year.
“We are back again at Loftus Versfeld and playing in front of our home fans. We have another opportunity to show that we are a team that play till the very end and that is an exciting opportunity for this squad,” said Mitchell. “We are gaining some momentum and are improving all the time. We are not the finished product yet though and hard work and commitment remains important for us.”
Vodacom Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said the Rebels showed their class already. “We have seen them playing some really good rugby so far this season. They are a well-drilled unit and are getting better and better as the season progresses. We need to keep on improving as well, as we have set our standards very high and we are not where we want to be yet.”
The players also welcomed back the home crowd. “Nothing beats playing at Loftus. We are lucky to have passionate support and I sincerely hope the crowds will turn up to get behind us.”
The Vodacom Bulls team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (25, 50), Johnny Kotze (26, 25), Jesse Kriel (52, 40), Burger Odendaal (c; 38, 15), Divan Rossouw (6, 10), Handre Pollard (38, 339), Ivan van Zyl (9, 0), Marco van Staden (7, 5), Thembelani Bholi (21, 50), Roelof Smit (20, 5), Lood de Jager (56, 15), RG Snyman (30, 10), Trevor Nyakane (86, 15)), Adriaan Strauss (150, 90), Pierre Schoeman (31, 15). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (27, 5), Lizo Gqoboka (33, 10), Frans van Wyk (8, 0), Jason Jenkins (33, 25), Shaun Adendorff (3, 0), Andre Warner (7, 5), Manie Libbok (4, 2), Duncan Matthews (7, 15).
- Adriaan Strauss will extend the South African record for most appearances in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition to 151.
- Jesse Kriel is the only Vodacom Bulls player who has played every minute of every match so far (560 minutes). In fact, Kriel, who debuted against the Rebels in the last match of 2014, has played in all matches in the 2015 Vodacom Super tournament and in 2016 and 2017 only missed one match.
- The Vodacom Bulls last three home games against Australian sides have seen a total of 28 tries scored, crossing for 17 themselves and conceding 11.