fast little loans
Johannesburg – Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made seven changes to his starting side to play the Blues in Auckland on Sunday in the first match of their four-week Australasian tour.
Injuries and the return to fitness of various players have resulted in wholesale changes to the side that earned a bonus-point Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Western Force last week.
“We have talked about our depth and this is a great opportunity to really test that,” Ludeke said after naming the team on Thursday.
“All the guys who start for the first time this season will be very keen and it will also give some respite to those who are feeling a bit sore after the first couple of matches.”
Injured winger Bjorn Basson is replaced by Lionel Mapoe, who moves from outside centre, where a fit again JJ Engelbrecht returns to the starting XV.
Akona Ndungane is also back in action and will play in his first match of the season in place of Sampie Mastriet.
Jano Vermaak earns a first start this season in place of Francois Hougaard, with the latter dropping to the bench with an ankle strain.
Deon Stegmann returns to the fray after recovered from a hamstring strain and replaces Jacques Potgieter who moves to the bench. Potgieter takes the place of Jean Cook, who was not included in the touring squad.
With both Werner Kruger and Chiliboy Ralepelle nursing small niggles, Ludeke opted to start with Frik Kirsten and Willie Wepener in the front row.
Ralepelle and Kruger will be joined on the bench by Super Rugby debutant Jurgen Visser.
The tourists were expecting a stiff challenge from the Blues, according to Ludeke.
“Both their wins (this season) were well deserved. They play very enterprising rugby,” he said.
“We have been up and down and our aim will be to produce the good spells for longer. We also know we will have to pick up points on tour if we want to be around at the business end of the competition.”
Bulls team: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Wynand Olivier, Lionel Mapoe, Morne Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Frik Kirsten, Willie Wepener, Morne Mellett. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Werner Kruger, Grant Hattingh, Jacques Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Louis Fouche, Jurgen Visser. – Sapa