The Bulls have suffered a crucial blow ahead of their crunch Super Rugby clash against the Lions on Saturday, with hooker Schalk Brits ruled out due to injury.
The Springbok front-rower sustained concussion in last week’s 24-24 draw with the Highlanders in Dunedin, and has not been cleared to play.
Jaco Visagie will wear the No 2 jersey as one of six changes to the Bulls side, with Johan Grobbelaar on the bench.
Fortunately for Bulls coach Pote Human, flank Marco van Staden has passed his concussion protocols and will pack down at No 6.
In further good news, backs Warrick Gelant and Rosko Specman are fit again, while No 8 Duane Vermeulen returns after resting due to Springbok protocols.
In a surprise move, Human has dropped Springbok halfback Embrose Papier for the must-win game, and inserted Andre Warner at scrumhalf.
Another Bok No 9 in Ivan van Zyl is on the bench.
Lock Jason Jenkins won’t run out at Loftus Versfeld (5.15pm kickoff) due to injury, so Jannes Kirsten slots in at No 4.
“We are at a late stage in the competition, and anyone coming back into the fray does so with new energy and fresh legs, and that is always good,” Human said on the Bulls website.
“The nice thing about this weekend is that we have our fate in our own hands and do not have to worry about results elsewhere. We can go out and apply our minds to the job at hand.”
Pollard will hope that his team can qualify for the playoffs – otherwise this would be his last game for the Pretoria outfit, as he will join Montpellier after the World Cup.
“We are going to need every Bulls supporter this weekend, and I hope they come out in numbers to support us. We had some mixed performances at home this year, but the last couple of results show that we are getting into a good rhythm,” the Bok flyhalf said.
“It will be fantastic if we can qualify for the knockouts for the first time in six years, and do so in front of our own fans. Before that though, we will need an exceptional effort on Saturday.”
15 Warrick Gelant 14 Cornal Hendricks 13 Johnny Kotze 12 Burger Odendaal 11 Rosko Specman 10 Handre Pollard (captain) 9 Andre Warner 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Hanro Liebenberg 6 Marco van Staden 5 RG Snyman 4 Jannes Kirsten 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Jaco Visagie 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Wiehahn Herbst 19 Eli Snyman 20 Ruan Steenkamp 21 Ivan van Zyl 22 Manie Libbok 23 Divan Rossouw.@ashfakmohamed