PRETORIA – Bulls coach Nollis Marais has given starts to Tian Schoeman and Jannes Kirsten for the first time this season when he named his team to face the Sunwolves in a Super Rugby clash in Tokyo on Saturday.
Schoeman will start in place of Handré Pollard, who along with Jesse Kriel, are being rested as part of the SA Rugby agreement.
Kriel’s spot at fullback goes to Warrick Gelant.
Upfront, Kirsten will start in place of injured Ruan Steenkamp, Hanro Liebenberg returns at No8 and takes over from the injured Arno Botha, and Jason Jenkins will partner RG Snyman at lock, with Lood de Jager falling out the match-23 with a quad strain.
Martin Dreyer, who replaced John-Roy Jenkinson on tour, will take over from Jacobie Adriaanse on the bench, while Jacques Potgieter, Ivan van Zyl and Franco Naudé, who also arrived from South Africa earlier in the week, will all play off the bench.
Potgieter has been named the back-up lock, Van Zyl will cover for the injured Piet van Zyl and Naudé will cover the midfield and outside backs.
Francois Brummer, who joined the team in New Zealand already, will back-up Tian Schoeman.
Marais was adamant that his side will not let their heads drop following two defeats on tour.
“We showed massive improvement against the Chiefs and I am pleased with that. We always knew how difficult this tour would be, but with all the injuries, it proved even tougher than expected,” he said.
“A win over the Sunwolves is no given, but if we continue the upward trend shown in New Zealand, we will be in with a serious chance to win.”
The coach was well aware of the huge amount of travel by his team, but feels this is not detrimental.
“The Sunwolves have to travel a lot as well and as they have shown when they last played us and the Cheetahs, this should not be a burden if managed properly.”
Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jan Serfontein, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Lizo Gqoboka.
Bench: Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman, Martin Dreyer, Jaco Visagie/Hendré Stassen, Jacques Potgieter, Ivan van Zyl, Francois Brummer, Franco Naudé.