Cape Town – The Bulls have restored captain Ruan Nortje and a whole host of their first-choice players for Friday night’s United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against the Scarlets in Wales (9.35pm kick-off).
The Pretoria side suffered a 31-7 Champions Cup defeat at the hands of Lyon in freezing cold conditions at the Stade Gerland, where snow fell on the artificial surface during the match.
But apart from the weather, the Bulls battled to get their attack going, making numerous handling errors, while they also lost the scrum battle, were dominated physically at times and were heavily penalised at the breakdowns.
That has seen assistant coaches Chris Rossouw and Russell Winter – who are in charge of the team while director of rugby Jake White recovers from an operation – turn to the likes of Nortje, Springbok No 8 Elrigh Louw and the established front row of Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith to provide some much-needed grunt upfront.
WATCH: Bulls loose forward Nizaam Carr was asked if he wouldn't mind having one of his favourite Cape delicacies, boeber, right now. pic.twitter.com/ZN84kctXlH— IOL Sport (@IOLsport) January 25, 2023
Steenekamp, Grobbelaar and Smith in particular have been in top form in recent weeks and will look to earn those penalties at the set-piece, while also working hard in the tight-loose, especially in the mauls.
There is a new-look backline as well, which has been necessitated by the absence of Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie, who have returned home to start their Springbok resting protocols.
Johan Goosen will now step into the fullback berth, with Chris Smith slotting in at flyhalf, with Zak Burger coming in for Embrose Papier at scrumhalf.
The old firm of Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe will man the midfield, while Stravino Jacobs and David Kriel are on the wings.
A new face on the bench is young hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels, with Bismarck du Plessis having flown home to attend the birth of his child.
Bulls starting XV: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 David Kriel, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger; 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (capt), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Cornal Hendricks, 23 Wandisile Simelane.