Bulls load up on Springboks for Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Bulls added some additional Springbok muscle for their must-win Super Rugby Round 18 encounter with the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Springboks Duane Vermeulen and Warrick Gelant, along with Sevens Bok Rosko Specman, will return to the Bulls starting team.
The backline duo of Gelant and Specman picked up injuries during the Bulls tour to Australasia, while Vermeulen missed the New Zealand leg of the tour due to the World Cup rest protocols.
Coach Pote Human also had to replace injured lock Jason Jenkins and hooker Schalk Brits in a side that show six changes to the one that started against the Highlanders in Dunedin last week.
Gelant takes over from Divan Rossouw (bench) and Specman’s return is at the expense of Dylan Sage, with Johnny Kotze moving from wing to outside centre.
Andre Warner comes in at scrumhalf in place of Embrose Papier in a rotational move.
In the pack, Vermeulen’s return resulted in Marco van Staden moving back to six, with Ruan Steenkamp benched and Jannes Kirsten slotting in for Jenkins, with Eli Snyman coming onto the bench in his place.
Johan Grobbelaar will be back-up hooker to Jaco Visagie, who took over from Schalk Brits in Dunedin.
Bulls coach, Pote Human, said the return of injured players will freshen up the squad.
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“We are at a late stage in the competition and anyone coming back into the fray does so with new energy and fresh legs and that is always good,” the coach said.
“The nice thing about this weekend is that we have our fate in our own hands and do not have to worry about results elsewhere. We can go out and apply our minds to the job at hand.”
For Handré Pollard, the return to Loftus Versfeld will add something to the team’s effort.
“We are going to need every Bulls supporter this weekend and I hope they come out in numbers to support us. We had some mixed performances at home this year, but the last couple of results show that we are getting into a good rhythm,” Pollard said.
“It will be fantastic if we can qualify for the knock-outs for the first time in six years and do so in front of our own fans. Before that though, we will need an exceptional effort on Saturday.”
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (captain),
9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Date: Saturday, June 15
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Stefan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)