Pretoria - Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Pretoria outfit when they take on the Golden Lions in the Gauteng Challenge at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
The veteran flanker makes a welcome comeback to the playing field after being sidelined by injury for most of the 2012 season and will lead a team that combines youth and experience, with a number of new faces.
Stegmann is one of four Springboks in the starting line-up, which will also see 2012 Junior World Championship gold medallists Travis Ismaiel, Jan Serfontein, and Paul Willemse take the field, while Wiaan Liebenberg and Handre Pollard are on the bench.
Lionel Mapoe, on loan from the Lions, will start at outside centre.
“These are exciting times for us,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said on Wednesday.
“We are at the start of a new season and we cannot wait to get going. “We have big plans and big dreams for 2013 and are keen to start.
“The Lions have played twice now and have that advantage, but we have worked hard in training and will give it a full go.”
Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Travis Ismaiel, Lionel Mapoe, Jan Serfontein, Sampie Mastriet, Louis Fouche, Jano Vermaak, Arno Botha, Jean Cook, Deon Stegmann (captain), Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Frik Kirsten, Willie Wepener, Juan Schoeman. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Hencus van Wyk, Wiaan Liebenberg, Cornell Hess, Ruan Snyman, Handre Pollared, Ulrich Beyers, Jacques du Plessis.