Hanro Liebenberg will start at number eight for the Bulls in Friday's Super Rugby clash against the Western Force in Perth.
This will be Liebenberg’s first appearance for the Bulls in the Super Rugby competition since April last year, with Junior Springboks duties and injury interrupting the five caps the 20-year old has earned for the team this far.
Meanwhile, winger Jamba Ulengo has returned to South Africa for personal reasons this week, with Bjorn Basson replacing him on tour.
Liebenberg comes into the starting line-up as Marais made two changes to the run-on team that played against the Reds at Loftus Versfeld two weeks ago. The number eight takes over from Arno Botha and at scrum-half Piet van Zyl will start, with Rudy Paige moving to the bench.
Amongst the replacements, Bandise Maku, Dries Swanepoel and Roelof Smith will replace Jaco Visagie, Dan Kriel and Deon Stegmann on the bench respectively.
Marais was happy with the team’s travels and preparations, following a week off since the Reds win.
"We are, in a way, still under the radar and that is a good thing I believe. We are slowly starting to put a proper match together and as a unit is improving, no doubt. A coach cannot ask for more than that. We had soft moments and patches in a couple of matches, but overall, we are starting to find rhythm and some fluency in our game," said Marais.
Captain Adriaan Strauss is only too aware of the fact that the Force have proved a very difficult opponent for the Bulls in Perth.
"Yes, they do have a good record against us here, but that is not something that we see as an important issue. A lot of our guys are first time tourists with the team and just want to go out and enjoy playing for the Vodacom Bulls. We have ambitions in how we want to approach the game and execute our game plan, but know very well that the Force will not make it easy for us. We will have to work very hard for a win, but I can tell you now, this team is prepared to do that."
Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel.
Date: Friday, 29 April
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 19:05 (11:05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffman, Damien Mitchelmore
TMO: Ian Smith