Pretoria - The Bulls have been bolstered by the return of Duane Vermeulen, Rosko Specman and Warrick Gelant for their crucial trans-Jukskei derby against the Lions at Loftus on Saturday.
Their return will provide some bittersweet news for Bulls fans with Springbok hooker Schalk Brits and fiery lock Jason Jenkins missing the clash due to injury.
The Bulls need all the extra reinforcements for the clash that will determine whether they will take part in this year’s Super Rugby playoffs.
Bulls coach Pote Human has made six changes to the team that played to a 24-all draw with the Highlanders last week. Gelant replaces Divan Rossouw at fullback, while Specman is back to do duty on the wing at the expense of Dylan Sage. Johnny Kotze will shift from the wing to partner Burger Odendaal in midfield.
Human has stuck with his rotational policy for the scrumhalves. Embrose Papier drops out of the matchday 23, with Andre Warner earning promotion into the starting XV with Ivan van Zyl providing cover.
Marco van Staden moves back to flank, with Vermeulen slotting in at the back of the scrum and Jannes Kirsten filling Jenkins’ boots in the second row. Jaco Visagie will earn a start in Brits’ place. The match is the last of the weekend, and the Bulls will know precisely what they need to do to secure a playoff berth.
Human said their mindset was to go out to beat the Lions irrespective of which team they may have to face in the Antipodes for the quarter-finals.
“We are going out to win the match, you still need to beat the opposition to get past the quarter-finals whether it is the Hurricanes or the Crusaders,” Human said.
Bulls captain Handre Pollard said they have been inconsistent playing at home and were looking to give their supporters something to celebrate. The Bulls have not won a home match against the Lions, which would serve as an extra carrot in front of their noses.
“We had some mixed performances at home this year, but the last couple of results show that we are getting into a good rhythm,” Pollard said.
Bulls team: Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal, Rosko Specman, Handre Pollard (captain), Andre Warner, Duane Vermeulen, Hanro Liebenberg, Marco van Staden, RG Snyman, Jannes Kirsten, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima, Wiehahn Herbst, Eli Snyman, Ruan Steenkamp, Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw.