Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke reshuffled his pack of forwards and recalled Handré Pollard at flyhalf for his team to face the Sharks in Durban on Saturday. Pollard, who replaces Jacques-Louis Potgieter in the only change to the back line that won against the Reds in their Super Rugby clash last weekend, was rested last week as per SARU arrangement. In the pack, Ludeke have Adriaan Strauss back after the hooker was also rested against the Reds, while he also picked a new loose trio, lock combination and front row to face the coastal side in the visitor’s first return match in the South African conference.
In the front row, Strauss and Marcel Van Der Merwe will start with Dean Greyling, with Callie Visagie and Trevor Nyakane moving to the bench. The lock combination of Flip Van Der Merwe and Grant Hattingh will pack down together for the first time this year, with Jacques Du Plessis moving to the side of the scrum, where he will partner Deon Stegmann and Pierre Spies. A fit-again Lappies Labuschagne will start from the bench, alongside Arno Botha, who started at seven against the Reds.
Hanro Liebenberg, Jaco Visagie and Potgieter are not involved this week. Ludeke says: ‘It will be a massive challenge for us, so to have the likes of Handré, Adriaan and Lappies back is great. We will be facing a Sharks team what will be hurting and desperate to redeem themselves at home and I think it is fair to say that this will be our toughest assignment this year.’ Bulls captain Pierre Spies is keen for his side to do well away from home.
Spies says: ‘We will have to show the ability to win away from home consistently if we want to remain in the competition. Durban is a tough place to play at and with so much at stake in the SA conference, we really cannot afford to play average rugby. This is going to be an epic local derby and we need to front up to it.’
The team to play the Sharks (with Super Rugby caps) is:
Jesse Kriel (9), Francois Hougaard (80), JJ Engelbrecht (57), Burger Odendaal (3), Bjorn Basson (79), Handré Pollard (19), Rudy Paige (15), Pierre Spies (c, 111), Jacques du Plessis (23), Deon Stegmann (87), Grant Hattingh (42), Flip van der Merwe (73), Marcel van der Merwe (25), Adriaan Strauss (112), Dean Greyling (61).
Callie Visagie (43), MornéMellett (32), Trevor Nyakane (50), Arno Botha (25), Lappies Labuschagne (32), Piet van Zyl (51), Tian Schoeman (2), Jurgen Visser (28).