Cape Town – Jake White has put his trust in the same team that lost a Currie Cup match last week for the Bulls’ massive United Rugby Championship clash against Ulster in Belfast on Saturday night (9.35pm SA time kickoff).
Most of the players who were part of last weekend’s 41-33 defeat to Western Province at Loftus Versfeld have been retained, although White was able to add two big guns in Springbok stars Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie when he announced his team on Friday.
Arendse and Moodie – who replace David Kriel and Quewin Nortjé at fullback and wing respectively, with Kriel shifting to No 11 – have been away at a Bok training camp and also enjoyed a bit of a break, but they will hope to make a major impact to help the Bulls turn things around.
The Pretoria side have lost nine out of their last 11 matches across all competitions, and are desperate to earn a victory at the Kingspan Stadium.
But Ulster are a top side themselves, with veteran Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen also in the mix. Vermeulen’s clash with Bulls No 8 Elrigh Louw will be one of the most anticipated clashes on the night, while the visitors will also need opensider Marco van Staden to contest the breakdowns ferociously.
Locks Ruan Vermaak and captain Ruan Nortjé will have their work cut out in the lineouts too, and the entire Bulls pack must find a way to thwart a powerful driving maul by getting stuck in with the physicality battle.
Halfbacks Zak Burger and Chris Smith will have to make liberal use of their boots as well – whether searching for territory or putting up contestable box-kicks – and Smith’s shots at goal have to be accurate if the Bulls are to have any chance of victory.
Blue Bulls team: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Canan Moodie 13 Cornal Hendricks 12 Harold Vorster 11 David Kriel 10 Chris Smith 9 Zak Burger 8 Elrigh Louw 7 Cyle Brink 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortjé (captain) 4 Ruan Vermaak 3 Mornay Smith 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Francois Klopper 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 WJ Steenkamp 21 Embrose Papier 22 Morné Steyn 23 Stedman Gans.