Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made seven changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the EP Kings in Pretoria.
Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made seven changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Eastern Province Kings in Pretoria.
Injuries, rotational policy and the availability of players from suspension all played a role in Ludeke's decision to ring the changes in the Blue Bulls' first home Currie Cup match, following two away defeats against the Golden Lions and Western Province.
Ludeke decided on first-time starts for Jesse Kriel, William Small-Smith, Tony Jantjies, Rudi Paige and Bongo Mbonambi, while Marcel van der Merwe is moved from loosehead to tighthead prop with Dean Greyling returning after suspension.
Callie Visagie, JJ Engelbrecht, Jacques Engelbrecht and Jurgen Visser are all rested, while Jacques-Louis Potgieter is injured.
Kriel will start at full-back, Small-Smith at outside centre, Jantjies and Paige will be the new halfback pairing and Mbonambi will wear the number two jersey.
Regular U21 pivot Joshua Stander will be amongst the reserves and if called upon, will make his Currie Cup debut.
“We are under pressure following our opening two defeats and that is not the ideal position after only three weeks into a competition,” admitted Ludeke.
“This is an experienced squad that have responded under pressure in the past, so I am confident we will deliver a better performance this week.
“We have been under-achieving away from Loftus and we welcome the chance to have home ground advantage again.”
Blue Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wiaan Liebenburg, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Date: Saturday, August 23
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 BST, 13:00 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Cobus Wessels
Television match official: Johan Greeff
Assessor: Keith Hendricks