Bulls heavyweights to face Cheetahs

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Pretoria – Pierre Spies will lead an experienced and familiar looking Bulls side in their second pre-season warm-up when they take on the Cheetahs at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday.

Ludeke made wholesale changes from the side that beat the Lions 38-32 in the inaugural Gauteng Rugby Cup at Orlando Stadium in Soweto last weekend, with only fullback Jurgen Visser remaining in the starting line-up.

Ludeke's reshuffle sees first team regulars like Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Bjorn Basson and Spies return to the fold.

They will make their first appearances of the season ahead of the start of their Super Rugby campaign against the Stormers in Pretoria on February 22.

“The changes mean that everyone will get a warm-up game before the Super Rugby competition,” Ludeke said in Pretoria on Wednesday.

“Everyone needs to feel good about themselves and be ready for the start of the competition.”

“Every player is important and needs to be 100 percent committed. We are loyal towards performance, we want to make sure that we get the season started well and perform consistently throughout the tournament.”

Ludeke emphasised the importance of using a squad system during the tournament that would allow the Bulls to rest a number of key players at crucial times in their Super Rugby campaign.

“We need everybody. A team cannot be successful if they don't rotate their players, we saw that last year,” Ludeke said.

“There are talented players that are going to put pressure on the senior guys, but the season is going to mean that those youngsters are going to come in automatically because of the need for a rotation policy.”

Many of the players who played in Orlando last week will play in the Vodacom Cup where they will have an opportunity to show their worth.

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure that we are in contention for a playoff place towards the end of the tournament,” the Bulls mentor said.

“It's a long season, especially with the international matches taking place in the middle of the tournament as well.”

Meanwhile, the Bulls welcomed back centre Wynand Olivier from Japan, where his club – the Ricoh Black Rams – have ended their season, allowing the former Springbok to play for the Bulls.

Bulls skipper Pierre Spies said he was pleased to have Olivier back in the camp and was looking forward to play alongside his fiend and team-mate.

“It's great having him back,” Spies said.

“Obviously we have a lot of new young talent coming in at centre and I think Wynand's experience will count a lot there with helping the young guys to slot in.

“He brings a lot of composure and leadership into our backline, so he is a valuable asset to our team.”

Olivier will start from the bench and will get a run later in the match to get a feel for his new team and surroundings.

“It's Wynand's first week back with us, he's still finding his feet,” Ludeke said.

“I've picked him on the bench just to incorporate him a bit. He will play a role this weekend, he'll come off the bench.

“He will get an opportunity towards the end of the game to kick off his campaign for the Bulls.” – Sapa


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