Bulls load up on Bok muscle for Leinster
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White has added some additional Springbok muscle to his team for their United Rugby Championship opener.
Veteran Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis will make his Bulls debut when the side takes on Leinster in Dublin on Saturday.
The 37-year-old No.2 is set to add to the already existing stability of the front row, where he will partner with props Mornay Smith and Gerhard Steenekamp.
In the second row, Ruan Nortje and Walt Steenkamp will make up the lock pairing, while the familiar loose trio of captain, Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha and Elrigh Louw will complete the forwards pack.
Flyhalf Johan Goosen returns to the starting XV to combine with Zak Burger as the halfback pairing, while the midfield pair of Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe continue where they left off in the South African domestic season.
Madosh Tambwe, Cornal Hendricks and David Kriel complete the makeup of the starting XV as the outside backs.
* Meanwhile, Leinster coach Leo Cullen made a number of changes from the team that faced Harlequins in a pre-season friendly two weeks ago and there are a number of positional changes as well.
Hugo Keenan, Rory O’Loughlin and James Lowe are the back three selected by Cullen with Keenan and O’Loughlin seeing action for the first time this season against the Bulls.
In the centre, Ciarán Frawley will also get his first taste of Leinster action this season as will Garry Ringrose beside him, with both players now fully recovered from shoulder injuries.
In the halfbacks, Cullen has chosen the same pair as started against ‘Quins with the experienced duo of Luke McGrath and captain Johnny Sexton starting.
In the pack, Andrew Porter has recovered from a foot injury and will start in the No.1 jersey for Leinster for the first time since November 2016. Dan Sheehan starts at hooker with Michael Ala’alatoa making his competitive debut at tighthead prop.
Ross Molony and James Ryan will form an all-St. Michael’s College second row unit.
Finally, in the back row, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris complete the starting XV for Cullen. Neither van der Flier nor Doris were involved two weeks ago.
On the bench, Cian Healy will wear the No.18 jersey, while Max Deegan will make his first competitive appearance for the province since October 2020 when he is introduced.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Rory O’Loughlin, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ciarán Frawley, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 James Ryan, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Jamie Osborne.
Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Jacques du Plessis, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans.
Date: Saturday, September 25
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Kick-off: 17.15 (18.15 SA time; 16.15 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Daniel Carson (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)