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Matfield on the bench for Bulls

12th February 2014 09:57

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Victor Matfield Bulls training 2011

Bench duty: Victor Matfield

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has included veteran lock Victor Matfield on his bench for Saturday's clash with the Sharks in Durban.

Regular captain Pierre Spies will lead a team on the field, with a number of players on debut and a number of others with only a handful of caps.

Matfield will join former Sharks AJ Venter en John Smit in becoming the most capped South African Super Rugby players and will play in his 125th match at this level.

Deon Stegmann (groin) failed a fitness test on Wednesday and was not considered, which will give Jono Ross a starting opportunity in the number six jersey. His fellow flanker, Jacques du Plessis, will play in the number seven jersey for the first time after an appearance at lock in his Super Rugby debut in 2013.

Springbok scrum-half Piet van Zyl, who joined from the Cheetahs, will play off the bench, as will Jacques Engelbrecht, who joined from the Southern Kings.

Ludeke was confident that he picked the right combinations for the opening match.

"We have identified certain areas where we will have to dominate and I think we have the right combinations in place to achieve that," he said.

"This is going to be a typical South African derby with a lot of focus on the breakdown and to dominate the advantage line.

"We respect the Sharks, but if we are accurate and play our rugby in the right areas of the field, we should get some reward for that.

"Our focus will be to execute and to make sure that we protect our ball, as the Sharks will be keen to counter whenever we turn over possession."

On Matfield's inclusion, Ludeke said: "We all know what Victor is capable of. He showed in training and our friendly match that he is still right up there amongst the best and I am confident that he will make a telling contribution when called upon."

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouchè, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Paul Willemse, 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 Handrè Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

Date: Saturday, February 15
Kick off: 19:10 (local), 17:10 (GMT)
Venue: Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

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