Marcel Van Der Merwe and Dean Greyling will earn first starts in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition as Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made three changes to his pack that will face the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Van Der Merwe and Greyling, who both made late starts to the competition due to injury, will swop places with Trevor Nyakane and Mornè Mellett respectively. In other swop, Grant Hattingh will earn his first start of the season and Victor Matfield will move to the bench.
The bench also have two new faces this week, with Arno Botha returning and Jaco Visagie replacing the injured Callie Visagie. Should he take to the field, Visagie will make his Bulls and Super Rugby debut. Botha, who was injured in the season’s opener against the DHL Stormers, is fit again and replaces Hanro Liebenberg.
Ludeke left his backs unchanged. The Bulls boss says: ‘We are good to go after a week’s rest and determined to maintain the momentum the last two wins have created. We have made some changes to the pack, but its part of the rotational policy. All three players deserve a start. We are also happy to see Arno back in full force.’ Bulls captain, Pierre Spies, warned that the Force cannot be underestimated, given the closeness of results between the teams in the past: ‘We always seem to be in tight matches against each other. The trick for us will be to play the big moments better and to execute whenever we create scoring opportunities.’
The team (with Super Rugby caps) is:
Jesse Kriel (5), Francois Hougaard (76), JJ Engelbrecht (53), Jan Serfontein (32), Bjorn Basson (75), Handrè Pollard (17), Rudy Paige (11), Pierre Spies (c, 107), Lappies Labuschagne (31), Deon Stegmann (83), Grant Hattingh (38), Jacques du Plessis (19), Marcel van der Merwe (21), Adriaan Strauss (109), Dean Greyling (57).
Replacements: Jaco Visagie (0), Mornè Mellett (28), Trevor Nyakane (46), Victor Matfield (142), Arno Botha (23), Piet van Zyl (47), Tian Schoeman (1), Jurgen Visser (27).