Bulls make four changes

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iol spt feb27 Bulls-Stormers Gallo Images Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made four changes to the side that beat the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld last weekend. Photo by Duif du Toit

Pretoria – Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made four changes to the side that beat the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.

The Pretorians will take on the Western Force in their second-round Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday without the services of flankers Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann while centre JJ Engelbrecht was the only casualty in the backline.

“We are in the second week of Super Rugby and we are already wringing the changes because of injuries,” Bulls captain Pierre Spies said on Wednesday.

“It is just important that the guys that slot in find their feet as quickly as possible and we keep going with the momentum we've got.”

The loss of looseforwards of the calibre of Potgieter and Stegmann would leave any other side reeling, the Bulls instead can call on two capable replacements in Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha.

Ludeke said the players were raring to go in order to make a difference for the team in the absence of the injured players.

“That is the great thing about the squad at the moment, we have some great depth, Jacques is a solid ball-carrier and great defender, he also worked very hard on his mobility during the off-season,” the Bulls mentor said.

A glaring loss was that of a specialist openside flanker in Stegmann, who is one of the country's best players at the breakdown.

His boots will be filled by Botha, who is one of the Bulls' rising stars, but is better known for his ball-carrying abilities.

“Arno is a promising youngster, and he is in the role of an openside fetcher, we have confidence that he can force some turnovers there at the breakdowns, he's got the ability to carry the ball as well,” Ludeke said of the youngster.

In the backline, Lionel Mapoe moves from wing to outside centre in the place of injured Engelbrecht, with Sampie Mastriet moving to the right wing berth for his debut for the Bulls.

The Bulls were in a strong position following their 25-7 victory over the Stormers and would be hoping to carry the momentum forward.

“We achieved the objectives we wanted for the game, we wanted to win it and obviously we had a good clinical performance as a team,” Spies said.

“Last week really doesn't matter anymore because it is a new week with new challenges and we sit with new players entering a team and now it is attacking the challenge of Saturday night.”

Bulls team: Zane Kirchner, Sampie Mastriet, Lionel Mapoe, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Jacques Potgieter, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Morne Mellett.

Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Grant Hattingh, Jean Cook, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouche, Jan Serfontein. – Sapa


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