Johannesburg – Former Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter will be rushed back into Super Rugby to play against the log-leading Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
“We all know the quality of Dewald as a player – he played enough in Japan and has also fitted in nicely this whole week,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“He brings a bit more experience as he is used to playing Super Rugby.”
Potgieter's inclusion comes only two days after the Bulls announced it had acquired the necessary release clearances from his Japanese club Yamaha Jubilo and he would be available until mid-July.
He will be playing at eighthman in the place of Jono Ross, who moves to the bench where he will be utilised as an impact player having experience in all three positions in the loose trio.
It will be Potgieter’s first match since the Bulls’ infamous 2013 Super Rugby semi-final defeat to the Brumbies, coached by Jake White, who has since taken over the reins at the Sharks.
Potgieter, who was captain at the time, refused to take the points on three occasions, which would have given his side a crucial buffer in the last 20 minutes of the match.
The Brumbies, however, scored at the death to see the Australian franchise advance to the final against the Chiefs.
Ludeke made no mention of Potgieter’s past indiscretions and instead focused on the positives the player brought to the side.
“One thing about Dewald is his work-rate. He plays for 80 minutes and he is a player who creates big moments in terms of turnovers, while he also makes sure we win the gain line on defence,” the Bulls coach said.
Potgieter was among two changes to the run-on side with Sampie Mastriet selected on the wing to replace Akona Ndungane, who is on compassionate leave following the death of his father a week ago.
In the first round of the competition, the Bulls were comprehensively beaten 31-16 by the Sharks in Durban.
The following week they were beaten by the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein before they got their campaign on track with victories over the Lions and the Blues at home.
Ludeke said his side had been more settled since they met the Sharks in their opening match of the season while the players were also more comfortable with their roles within the game plan.
The Bulls are hoping to come through unscathed in two difficult weeks of rugby against the only remaining unbeaten sides in this year’s Super Rugby season, before they head for Australasia.
After their return fixture against the Sharks, they will be facing defending champions the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld and will be looking for positive results before they embark on their overseas tour.
Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe stressed the importance of winning their home games, particularly against two of the pace-setting teams in the competition.
“It is a local derby and a very big match. We are going to have to be at our best if we want to beat the Sharks – the in-form side in Super Rugby at the moment,” Van der Merwe said.
Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Sampie Mastriet, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe (captain), Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Morné Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Paul Willemse, Jono Ross, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers. – Sapa