Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made one change to his starting XV ahead of Friday's Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made one change to his starting XV ahead of Friday's Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Grant Hattingh will make his first appearance this season, replacing Paul Willemse in the second row in the only change to the side that came up short against the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
Flanker Deon Stegmann remains unavailable for selection due to a groin strain and will again miss the match, with Jono Ross donning the number six jersey.
Piet van Zyl, who represented Cheetahs in 32 matches and Marcel van der Merwe, who played in three Super Rugby matches for the Bloemfontein side, will face their former team mates for the first time in this competition since moving to Pretoria.
If he takes to the field, Victor Matfield will become the most capped South African in Super Rugby as he will play in his 126th match (117 Bulls, 8 Cats). He currently shares the record of 125 appearances with John Smit and AJ Venter.
Ludeke made it very clear that his team's performance against the Sharks was not of acceptable standards and that they need to produce a convincing performance against the Cheetahs.
“It was clear during our review that we totally underperformed and all accepted the fact that this was not even close to the standards we have set ourselves,” said Ludeke.
“We have put that behind us now, as we look towards the Cheetahs match with a positive and determined frame of mind. They also had a disappointing result and would like to bounce back.”
Ludeke confirmed his confidence in his team's style of play.
“We know it will work, but then you have to apply it properly and execute your plays. This is something we will work on this week.”
Bulls captain Pierre Spies is adamant that they not only need to deliver an improved performance for their fans, but also for themselves.
“We are a new group, but we need to maintain the standard of excellence that was set in the past,” said Spies.
“Last weekend's performance did not measure up against those standards. We realise Super Rugby is a marathon, not a sprint, and that there will be hick-ups along the way, but we did let ourselves down with that start. The nice thing is that we can put the record straight immediately. The squad realise that and we will be a better team on Friday.”
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht,12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Victor Matfield,20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 HandrÃ¨ Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers
Date: Friday, February 21
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)