Ivan van Zyl and Dayan van der Westhuizen will make first starts for the Blue Bulls this season when they host the Pumas at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
Van Zyl made two appearances off the bench since returning from the Springboks’ Rugby Championship squad and takes over from Andre Warner, who will contribute off the bench this time around. Van der Westhuizen made three appearances off the bench so far in the competition and will start in place of injured Trevor Nyakane. Conraad van Vuuren comes in on the bench.
Blue Bulls coach Pote Human also welcomes back Johnny Kotze in the midfield, where he will partner Franco Naude, with JT Jackson missing out.
The team will again be captained by Hanro Liebenberg, who recovered from the ‘flu that forced a late withdrawal from last weekend’s clash against Griquas in Kimberley. His return results in Jano Venter dropping back to the bench and Thembelani Bholi dropping out of the match day squad.
“The Pumas are well-drilled and have shown in recent years that they always keep their best performances for when they play us. We need to be sharp and will have to defend better than last week, when we conceded 40 points in Kimberley,” said Human when he announced the team.
“That said, the win was important for us as we had to guts it out. Playing at home will be another motivation, as we lost our previous home game and owe our supporters a good showing.”
Liebenberg is pleased to be back and leading the charge, saying: “It is never nice to miss out, but credit to all who really excelled last weekend. The win was important, not only for the log position, but also our momentum and we must continue with that determination. The Pumas guys are a tough bunch and we need to focus on our game and make sure we play at our pace and pattern.”
Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Conrad van Vuuren, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Dylan Sage
Date: Friday, September 14
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Kick-off: 18:45 local (17:45 BST, 16:45 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Christopher Allison
Television match official: Lesego Legoete