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Pollard to start for Bulls

30th April 2014 11:28

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Handre Pollard Bulls v Hurricanes SR 2014

Handré Pollard: Season's first start

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has tweaked his back-line and front row for Saturday's clash with the Cheetahs in Pretoria.

Ludeke included IRB Junior World Championship winners William Small-Smith and Handre Pollard in the starting XV for the first time this season and also gave prop Marcel van der Merwe a first start for the match at Loftus Versfeld.

Small-Smith replaces JJ Engelbrecht, who moves to the bench in place of Ulrich Beyers, Pollard swaps places with Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Van der Merwe takes to the field with Werner Kruger being used as impact player this time around.

Callie Visagie returns to hooker, with Bongi Mbonambi on the bench and Bandise Maku dropping out.

Ludeke said it was time for rotating players again and expressed his confidence in the two 21 year-olds earning their first start.

"Both Handre and William have slotted in well at this level and are eager to show what they have to offer," he told the Bulls' official website.

"This is a good opportunity for them."

Ludeke admitted that his team is under pressure against a high-flying Cheetahs team, who earlier this year broke their Super Rugby duck against the Bulls.

"We are back at Loftus Versfeld where expectations are even higher and to be honest, not in a situation we wanted to be at this stage of the tournament," added Ludeke.

We need to get out of our losing streak and back to winning ways, not only to stay in the competition but to justify the hard work we have put in. I am confident that we can turn things around, as it is small things that are costing us at the moment."

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Wimpie van der Walt, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.

Date: Saturday, May 3
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17:05 (local, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

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PosTeamPPts
1Sharks1650
2Bulls1638
3Stormers1632
4Lions1631
5Cheetahs1624