Spies back to lead Bulls

Date published: May 13 2015

Pierre Spies will make his return to the Bulls starting lineup for Friday's clash with the Blues in Auckland.

Spies came on as a replacement in the team's last Super Rugby clash, a close win over Lions at Loftus Versfeld, and will replace Arno Botha at the back of the scrum. Botha will shift to the flank, with Jacques du Plessis moving to the bench.

In the only change in the backline, Rudy Paige comes back at scrum-half in place of injured Piet van Zyl.

There are four changes on the bench. Dean Greyling comes in Morné Mellett and a fit-again Werner Kruger will replace Andrew Beerwinkel. It will be Kruger's first appearance since the opening round of the tournament when he injured his ankle against the DHL Stormers in February. Amongst the backs, Jacques-Louis Potgieter is fit again following a hamstring strain and replaces Tian Schoeman and Travis Ismaiel comes in for Jurgen Visser.

"At this stage of the competition you need to be playing your best rugby and have great momentum," said coach Frans Ludeke. 

"We are pretty close to that and we cannot afford to slip up if we want to stay in the play-off race. That said, we are playing a very dangerous team so will have to execute very well."

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Burger Odendaal, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 Travis Ismaiel

Date: Friday, May 15
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19:35 local (17:35 AEST, 09:35 SAST, 07:35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Aki Aso (Japan)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)