Arno Botha returns to the Bulls starting line-up. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

PRETORIA - Arno Botha will make a first appearance for the Bulls in Super Rugby this year when the three-time champions take on the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday (8.30am SA time kickoff).

The loose forward played in 11 matches in the competition last year and 46 in his career, but will be part of the Bulls match-day squad for the first time this year.

Botha comes in for the injured Hanro Liebenberg at No 8 as Bulls coach Nollis Marais also made a couple of rotational changes from the side that lost to the Blues last weekend.

Jesse Kriel moves from centre to fullback in place of Warrick Gelant, who will play of the bench.

Burger Odendaal is back in the run-on team, as in their win over the Sunwolves last month, and will start with Jan Serfontein in the midfield, while at scrumhalf, Rudy Paige and Piet van Zyl swops jerseys, with Page starting this time.

The same happens up front at lock with RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins swopping and at loosehead, where Lizo Gqoboka and Pierre Schoeman rotate again.

Jacobie Adriaanse, who missed out last weekend, is back on the bench in place of the injured John-Roy Jenkinson. Jaco Visagie and Edgar Marutlulle also swop places, with the latter on the bench.

“I am happy to have Arno back. He is a proven player at this level and I am very keen to see him contribute in what will be a very physical and robust match. Hanro did well so far, but Arno progressed really well after picking up an injury in pre-season, and he will be keen to show why he played Test-match rugby for the Springboks,” Marais said.

“We certainly have a lot to improve. We cannot be proud of that last 40 minutes we produced against the Blues. We are a better team than that, and we have an opportunity against a great team to prove that.

“We are not doing justice to ourselves, we are not achieving the targets we set and we are disappointing our supporters.

“That said, this team is certainly good enough, but talk is cheap. We need to go out and show that on the field. We could not have picked a more fitting place or opponent to do that than against the Chiefs at home, but we have to show that belief and justify the hard work done.”

Strauss will extend his record as the most-capped South African hooker in the tournament, playing in his 135th match.

Bulls Team: Jesse Kriel, Travis Ismaiel, Jan Serfontein, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Handré Pollard, Rudy Paige, Arno Botha, Nick de Jager, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Pierre Schoeman.
Bench: Edgar Marutlulle, Lizo Gqoboka, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Warrick Gelant.

Blue Bulls Rugby