Veteran lock Victor Matfield has been named in the Bulls starting XV for Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Lions in Pretoria.
Veteran lock Victor Matfield has been named in the Bulls starting XV for Saturday's clash against the Lions in Pretoria.
The 36-year-old is one of four changes made to the starting side that came up short in Bloemfontein last weekend, with Grant Hattingh (number eight), Jacques-Louis Potgieter (fly-half) and Frik Kirsten (tighthead prop) the others to earn a start on the weekend.
Matfield takes over from Hattingh in the second-row. Hattingh moves from lock to the back of the scrum in place of Jacques Engelbrecht and Kirsten swaps places with Werner Kruger, with the latter on the bench for this match. Potgieter replaces Louis FouchÃ¨, who drops out of the 23 altogether.
Engelbrecht moves to the bench while Matfield's place amongst the replacements will be taken by Paul Willemse, with Wiaan Liebenberg missing out.
The versatile Potgieter last played for the Bulls as a replacement centre in the final of the 2010 showpiece, when the home side beat the Stormers in Soweto for back-to-back Super Rugby titles.
Hattingh, who has played as a flanker for the Bulls and the Lions in Super Rugby before, will start at number eight for the first time.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes the change in personnel will invigorate his side, who lacked composure in finishing off chances this far.
“It is still early in the competition, but we have to be honest with ourselves,” he said.
“We cannot afford a repeat of the first two weekends, where we were lethargic and inaccurate in our set plays. The Lions are high on confidence, so we need not only to start well, but play with belief and commitment.”
Ludeke backed his team selections.
“Jacques-Louis has 42 Super Rugby caps under his belt and need to show that for us, while we expect Victor to bring composure and calm to our set piece. I am excited to see Grant at no 8, he is a true footballer and read the play very well.”
Flip van der Merwe, who took over the captaincy from Pierre Spies last week, will again lead the team into battle.
“We are way down on the standards we set for ourselves this season,” Van der Merwe said.
“This will be our first home game of the season and we are pleased about it after two difficult weekends in Durban and Bloemfontein.
“We are facing a rampant Lions team though who are playing with passion, skill and precision. We need to match them in those areas if we want to record our first win of the tournament.”
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (c), 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 HandrÃ© Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
Date: Saturday, March 1
Kick-off: 17:05 (15:05 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)