PRETORIA – The Bulls will be without their linchpin against the Jaguares this weekend, with coach Pote Human giving Handré Pollard a rest as per the World Cup protocols.
Springbok centre Jesse Kriel will also be given a rest as Duane Vermeulen takes over the role of skipper for Saturday’s clash at Loftus Versfeld.
Manie Libbok, who is highly rated by Human, will be calling the shots from flyhalf in the place of Pollard.
Pollard has been instrumental in executing the Bulls’ game plan, and Human was confident Libbok would be able to take up the task.
“I know what he can do and we are all excited to give him a chance. To play in Polly’s (Pollard) shadow is difficult, and this is an opportunity to show what he can do,” Human said.
“He’s got other skills that Polly doesn’t have, he’s got good feet, and he’s also a special player.”
Human made a host of changes to the starting XV that scraped a victory over the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
He has opted for a new wing combination, with Jade Stighling and Johnny Kotze replacing Rosko Specman and Cornel Hendricks respectively.
Dylan Sage will earn another start, replacing Kriel at outside centre, with Burger Odendaal playing at No 12.
Human was forced to make a few changes to his pack, with lock Jason Jenkins suffering a pectoral muscle injury, and Hanro Liebenberg moving from the side of the scrum to the second row.
Corniel Els has been promoted to the starting line-up for Schalk Brits, who received a four-match ban for his role in the punch-up with Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe.
While it may seem like a gamble to make so many changes, Human believed the team was more than capable to hold their own against the Jaguares.
Vodacom Bulls Player Profile with Divan Rossouw— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) April 4, 2019
We caught up with the young and talented fullback who is making not only his family but his country of birth, Namibia, very proud! #BullsFamily pic.twitter.com/tVVg1TuWsR
“They will bring a good squad this time, not like the previous time they visited South Africa. It is an international squad they brought over, so it is going to be very tough.
“But we have confidence in all these guys to deliver.”
The last time the Jaguares toured South Africa, they brought a weakened team, resulting in heavy defeats to the Lions and the Stormers. The Bulls, in turn, will have a point to prove after the previous encounter in Buenos Aires, where they Jaguares claimed a 27-12 win.
“We were way under par, so we owe ourselves a proper performance,” Vermeulen said.
“It is nothing personal, but we would love to get one over them this time. The South African conference is so tight, we cannot afford another slip-up at home.”
Vodacom Bulls Team announcement vs Jaguares— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) April 3, 2019
Remember to get your tickets now at https://t.co/B4wPKDxmtW for the game this weekend when the Vodacom Bulls take on the Jaguares#BullsFamily #BULvJAG pic.twitter.com/8yfnXMPyYz