Bulls 'rest' World Cup-winning Bok
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Experienced loose forward Arno Botha will lead a Bulls team jam-packed with Springboks, BlitzBoks and Junior Springbok talent this week.
The Bulls face Griquas in the opening round of Super Rugby Unlocked at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Regular skipper Duane Vermeulen picked a slight knee niggle playing for the Green team in a Springbok trial at Newlands last week.
Coach Jake White said that at a push Vermeulen could have played, but he is being rested as a precaution.
Vermeulen is also one of the non-playing reserves that is preparing with the team.
The backline remains relatively unchanged from the SuperFan Saturday team that was triumphant against the Sharks two weeks ago.
The only change sees the fleet-footed David Kriel starting on the left wing as he makes his debut for the Bulls.
They have five Springbok backs in Gio Aplon, Cornal Hendricks, Travis Ismaiel, Morné Steyn and Ivan van Zyl.
Amongst the forwards, BlitzBok Tim Agaba starts at No.8 where he links up with Springbok flanks Botha and Marco van Staden – while locks Jason Jenkins and Ruan Nortje continue their partnership in the second row.
The front row will be propped up by World Cup-winning prop Trevor Nyakane and Super Rugby stalwart Jacques van Rooyen, who will also be making his Bulls debut.
The bench is no different in terms of explosive talent – with Springbok prop Lizo Gqoboka and Junior Springbok Johan Grobbelaar at hooker eager to return to action after injury lay-offs.
Lock Sintu Manjezi, flank Elrigh Louw and flyhalf Chris Smith are also set to make their Super Rugby debuts.
(Team below video …)
Bulls: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 David Kriel, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Arno Botha (captain), 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Non-playing replacement: 24 Jan Uys, 25 Duane Vermeulen, 26 Jade Stighling.
Date: Saturday, October 10
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morné Ferreira
TMO: Cwengile Jadezweni