Bulls turn to Paige

Date published: February 26 2015

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke handed scrum-half Rudy Paige a first Super Rugby start when he named his team to play the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.

All of his nine previous appearances in the competition came via the bench with his elevation to the starting team the only change from the run-on side that came up short against the Hurricanes last weekend.

Paige, who played off the bench in that close defeat, replaces Piet van Zyl, who drops out of the matchday squad altogether. Travis Ismaiel comes in for Paige and should he take to the field, the former Junior Springbok winger will make his debut for the team. Tian Schoeman was also drafted in on the bench with Jacques-Louis Potgieter a late withdrawl.

"Rudy has been playing well and we feel his game is best suited for this week and opponent," Ludeke explained.

A fit-again Marcel van der Merwe will also been eased in from the bench.

"We have started poorly, no doubt and we have put ourselves under pressure, even if it is early in the competition," Ludeke added.

"One cannot really afford to drop any home matches if you have serious title aspirations, so nothing but a win will suffice. We realise the Sharks are one of the best teams in the competition, but we owe it to ourselves and the supporters out there to play to our potential. If we do that, we will be competitive as our squad is certainly good enough."

Bulls captain Pierre Spies feels his team can turn the season around.

"We have lost to ourselves as much as our opponents so far. We need to eliminate the soft moments from our game and make sure we execute. It is going to be a tough battle, a typical local derby, but we are ready for this challenge," Spies said.

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Travis Ismaiel, 23 Jurgen Visser.

Date: Saturday, February 28
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)