Pretoria – Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar made two changes to his run-on side ahead of their third-round Currie Cup clash against the Golden Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Ruan Snyman will make his starting berth in the place of Rudy Paige, while hooker Bongi Mbonambi will earn his first start in the place of injured Callie Visagie.
Bandise Maku could feature in his first match for the Blue Bulls since his last match for the team in October 2010. He moved to the Golden Lions and played for the Southern Kings in this year's Super Rugby competition.
“We didn’t play too well against Griquas, but more of a unit setup and thought Bongi played well when he came on,” Pienaar said at the team announcement on Wednesday.
“He used his opportunity and performed well and we want to reward that.
“A guy like Ruan Snyman did well in the last 20 minutes, they are the same type of scrumhalves and it is nice to rotate them and hopefully Paige will bring the same energy he usually brings.”
The scrum feed took centre stage last weekend when Snyman was given a yellow card for his skewed put-in at the scrum after two earlier warnings against Paige.
Pienaar said the team paid extra attention to this facet of play this week as they could not afford penalties against them at the scrums.
“It is a new rule and we have to adapt... they (the players) worked hard on that and it is a focus for us,” he said.
“To get yellow for a skewed feed, we can’t be in that position again, so hopefully Paige and Ruan will be better at that this week.”
The Bulls managed a 15-9 victory over Griquas in a scrappy affair last Friday, and Pienaar looked for a major improvement from his charges against the Lions.
“There were too many turnover balls especially in the first half, and here and there the scrums were an issue for us.
“Our discipline cost us a bit and with that you are going to lose momentum, possession and territory.”
Former Southern Kings flanker Jacques Engelbrecht replaces the injured Jean Cook and could make his debut for the Bulls from the bench.
The Bulls mentor said his team had to fire on all cylinders this weekend, against a Lions side that would be desperate for a victory after two losses from as many games.
Pienaar said his replacements had made a resounding impact in their first two matches, and they could once again be tasked with wrapping the game up.
“The Lions will come out and they always play well, especially in the second half where they up the tempo, so it will help the team if they make a difference.”
Meanwhile, the Bulls announced that former Springbok flanker Tim Dlulane will replace veteran team manager Wynie Strydom at the end of this season.
Strydom had been part of the Bulls structure for the past 20
years and started his tenure as team manager back in 1997.
Blue Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Sampie Mastriet, Ulrich Beyers, Francois Venter, Travis Ismaiel, Tony Jantjies, Ruan Snyman, Jono Ross (captain), Jacques du Plessis, Wiaan Liebenberg, Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Bongi Mbonambi, Morne Mellett.
Replacements: Bandise Maku, Marcell van der Merwe, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Jacques Engelbrecht, Rudy Paige, Waylon Murray, Clayton Blommetjies. – Sapa