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Bok returns from ban for Loftus crunch

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Bulls have been bolstered by the return of Johan Goosen from suspension.

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The flyhalf returns to action as the Pretoria-based outfit sets its sights on round 17 of the 2023/24 United Rugby Championship.

Jake White’s herd welcomes the Italian outfit at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

White added Keagan Johannes (scrumhalf) and Sebastian de Klerk (utility back) to the matchday 23.

The duo will come off the replacement bench alongside Chris Smith who shuffles to jersey 22 in Goosen’s return.

Elsewhere, the squad remains unchanged with an identical forward and backline as the one that did duty last week.

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Gerhard Steenekamp (loosehead), Akker van der Merwe (hooker) and Wilco Louw (tighthead) are in the front row, whilst the Ruans (Vermaak and Nortje) combine at lock with Marco van Staden lining up at openside flank and Elrigh Louw on the blindside with Cameron Hanekom at No.8.

Scrumhalf Embrose Papier pairs up with Goosen at halfback, whilst Harold Vorster and David Kriel combine once more at centre.

The explosive back three of Kurt-Lee Arendse (left wing), Willie Le Roux (fullback) and Canan Moodie (right wing) have been retained.

The Bulls have opted for a five-three split replacement bench – which sees Johan Grobbelaar, Francois Klopper, Simphiwe Matanzima, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Johannes, Smith and De Klerk all complete the 23 men reporting for duty.

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Director of Rugby Jake White said the league is exciting and highly competitive as it enters the business end.

“This weekend has so many permutations still,” the Bulls’ boss said.

“We could win and remain in fourth.

“That is what’s nice about the competition, it all goes down to the final weekend.”

On Goosen’s return: “It’s nice to have a guy like Johan return because you know what he offers.

“Saying all of that, Chris [Smith] is also highly rated in our fold, he is not flashy and very consistent and so that makes for nice competition for the jersey.”

Bulls: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Sebastian de Klerk.

Date: Saturday, May 18
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 14.00 (12.00 GMT; 14.00 Italian time)
Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa) and Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Mike Adamson (South Africa)

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