Springbok halfback Piet Van Zyl will earn a third start for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday when the Pretoria franchise play the Stormers in Cape Town in a crucial Super Rugby clash. Van Zyl, who started against the coastal side in the season’s opener in February, comes in for injured Rudy Paige, while coach Frans Ludeke added another Springbok, midfielder Jan Serfontein, to his starting team at DHL Newlands. The incumbent Springbok centre is fit again after a hip flexor and will start in place of Burger Odendaal, who deputised for Serfontein the last four weeks.
The rest of the match day squad is the same who conquered the Cell C Sharks in Durban last weekend, bar Akona Ndungane, who will take Van Zyl’s spot on the bench. The centurion winger will make a first start in this year’s competition if called into action and earned his last and 108th cap in the Super Rugby competition in the final pool match of the 2014 competition against the same opponent and venue. Ludeke was well aware of the massive challenge that awaits his side against the Stormers, who is just two points behind the Bulls on the overall points and South African Conference Points log.
Ludeke says: ‘It does not come bigger than facing the Stormers in Cape Town. As our luck would have it, they have won their last two matches on tour in Australia and is playing at home for the first time in five weeks, so will be up for it. If we want to be a champion side, we will need to respond to this in a champion’s way.’ Bulls captain Pierre Spies pointed to the set-piece as a possible match clincher: ‘They outplayed us in the opening round, mainly because our set-piece was not as good. We have worked pretty hard since then and I honestly think our pack can now be measured against the best ones out there, especially since we have the likes of Flip Van Der Merwe and Arno Botha back to full fitness. We will have to be up for it and judging from training this week, we will.’
The team to play the Stormers (with Super caps) is:
Jesse Kriel (10), Francois Hougaard (81), JJ Engelbrecht (58), Jan Serfontein (33), Bjorn Basson (80), Handré Pollard (20), Piet Van Zyl (52), Pierre Spies (c, 112), Jacques Du Plessis (24), Deon Stegmann (88), Grant Hattingh (43) ,Flip Van Der Merwe (74), Marcel Van Der Merwe (26), Adriaan Strauss (113), Dean Greyling (62).
Replacements: Callie Visagie (44), Morné Mellett (33), Trevor Nyakane (51), Arno Botha (26), Lappies Labuschagne (33), Akona Ndungane (108), Tian Schoeman (3), Jurgen Visser (29).