Vermaak in for Hougaard

07th Mar 2013, 08:33

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Starting 9: Jano Vermaak

Starting 9: Jano Vermaak

Frans Ludeke has made seven changes to his Bulls starting XV to play the Blues in Auckland on Sunday in the first of their four-match tour.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made seven changes to his starting line-up to play the Blues in Auckland on Sunday in the first of their four-match tour.

The starting team shows changes at wing, centre, scrum-half, loose forward, prop and hooker from the one that had the bonus-point win over the Force last weekend, with injuries and the return to fitness the main reasons for that.

Injured winger Bjorn Basson is replaced by Lionel Mapoe, who moves from outside centre, where a fit again JJ Engelbrecht returns to the side. Akona Ndungane is also back and will play in his first match of the season in place of Sampie Mastriet.

Jano Vermaak also earns a first start this season in place of Francois Hougaard, with the latter playing off the bench. Hougaard is struggling with an ankle strain.

Deon Stegmann returns to the fray having recovered from his hamstring strain and replaces Jacques Potgieter who moves to the bench. Potgieter takes the place of Jean Cook, who is not in the touring squad.

With both Werner Kruger and Chiliboy Ralepelle having small niggles, Ludeke opted to start with Frik Kirsten and Willie Wepener in the front-row.

Ralepelle and Kruger will be joined on the bench by Super Rugby debutant, Jürgen Visser. The versatile Blue Bulls player finally gets a chance to play Super Rugby following a stellar Currie Cup season last year.

"We have talked about our depth and this is a great opportunity to really test that," Ludeke said of his team selection.

"All the guys who start for the first time this season will be very keen and it will also give some respite to those who are feeling a bit sore after the first couple of matches."

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Jürgen Visser.

Date: Sunday, March 10
Kick-off: 16:05 (03:05 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)