Super Rugby regular SP Marais will start at fullback for the Bulls when they take on the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth in what will be a 37th appearance for the versatile outside back. This will only be his second game for the Bulls though after the former Southern Kings (8 caps) and Sharks (27 caps) player came off the bench in the win against the Cheetahs last weekend. Marais takes over from Jesse Kriel, who returns to the midfield to partner Jan Serfontein. Kriel moves to outside centre, with Serfontein moving to the inside berth left vacant by the injury to Burger Odendaal.
Jesse Kriel’s twin brother, Dan, moves onto the bench and could make his Super Rugby debut should he take to the field. Rudy Paige is also out injured and Piet Van Zyl will start at nine for the first time this year, with Ivan Van Zyl remaining on the bench as back-up scrumhalf. In changes to the pack, Arno Botha returns at eighthman, replacing Nic De Jager, while Lappies Labuschagne is back in the starting pack.
He replaces Roelof Smit, who moves to the bench. In another change, Trevor Nyakane will start, with Lizo Gqoboka dropping out. Two new faces on the bench is Marvin Orie and Werner Kruger.
Orie comes in for Nicolaas Janse Van Rensburg and Kruger takes the seat vacated by Nyakane. Bulls boss Nollis Marais says: ‘There is no doubt that the Kings will be tails up. They really deserved the win against the Sunwolves, a team we battled to put away. So with that as measure, it is clear that we will have to play very well if we want to leave Port Elizabeth with a win. We showed good grit last weekend against the Cheetahs, but will have to be more consistent at this level. We are playing in spurts and our second half effort is lacking.’ Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, feels that the Kings will target the Bulls scrum: ‘No doubt. We did not do well in that department last weekend, while they did very well, so will see an opportunity to attack us there. We worked hard to fix the issues we had and I am confident that we can repel that attack. We have some weapons of our own and intend to use them.’
The team (with number of Super Caps) is: SP Marais (36), Travis Ismaiel (9), Jesse Kriel (21), Jan Serfontein (41), Jamba Ulengo (3), Tian Schoeman (12), Piet Van Zyl (58), Arno Botha (37), Jannes Kirsten (5), Lappies Labuschagne (40), RG Snyman (5), Jason Jenkins (5), Marcel Van Der Merwe (38), Adriaan Strauss (123, c), Trevor Nyakane (63).
Replacements: Bandise Maku (52), Pierre Schoeman (2), Werner Kruger (113), Marvin Orie (2), Roelof Smit (8), Ivan Van Zyl (1), Francois Brummer (10), Dan Kriel (0).
Photo credit: Nick Lourens