Bulls coach Nollis Marais made three changes to his backline to play the Reds in a Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Bjorn Basson replaces Jamba Ulengo on the wing, Francois Brummer swops jerseys with Tian Schoeman at flyhalf, with the latter moving to the bench and Rudy Paige returns from injury. He replaces Piet Van Zyl, who moves to the bench, with Ivan Van Zyl dropping out from the team that won against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth last weekend.
The pack remains unchanged, but Marais tweaked his bench. Lizo Gqoboka replaces Pierre Schoeman as back-up loosehead, Jaco Visagie comes in for Bandise Maku at hooker and Deon Stegmann takes over from Roelof Smit as the openside flanker. It will be Stegmann’s first appearance in the competition after he recovered from injury.
The coach is happy to welcome back the likes for Springboks Basson and Paige and feels that this is the best team to face the Australians. Marais says that the Reds will pose a different threat to what the team were exposed to in their last two matches: ‘Local derbies are just different. It is a more physical match-up with lots of collisions. It is no co-incidence that people talk about a typical derby match. Playing a team from Australia will present challenges elsewhere to what we were used to and we need to be ready to embrace them. The Reds play with good width and have great players in crucial positions. They knocked over the defending champions last week, so will have faith in their game plan and structures. We need to be ready.’ Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, believes that last weekend’s win over the Kings showed the way: ‘We had to overcome a number of challenges, like playing with 13 men. We made two or three try-saving tackles and most pleasing, scored a couple of crackers ourselves. Those things do wonders for the confidence and belief and we are ready to give it another go. The Reds are former champions and is a team that has lots of variety and options. So we need to defend with great pride against them if we want to dominate.’
The team (with number of Super Caps) is: SP Marais (37), Travis Ismaiel (10), Jesse Kriel (22), Jan Serfontein (42), Bjorn Basson (90), Francois Brummer (11), Rudy Paige (26), Arno Botha (38), Jannes Kirsten (6), Lappies Labuschagne (41), RG Snyman (6), Jason Jenkins (6), Marcel Van Der Merwe (39), Adriaan Strauss (124, c), Trevor Nyakane (64).
Replacements:Jaco Visagie (4), Lizo Gqoboko (5), Werner Kruger (114), Marvin Orie (3), Deon Stegmann (92), Piet Van Zyl (59), Tian Schoeman (13), Dan Kriel (1).
Photo credit: Nick Lourens