Bulls rush back Springboks
Zane Kirchner (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar has included all their returning Springboks for his side's crunch Absa Currie Cup clash against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 19:10.
The Blue Bulls need to win at Coca-Cola Park, most likely with a bonus point, in order to qualify for a semi-final spot.
Zane Kirchner, Morne Steyn, Flip van der Merwe, Juandre Kruger and Francois Hougaard will all play in the domestic competition for the first time this year.
Kirchner will start at fullback, Steyn at flyhalf, and Kruger and Van der Merwe will lock the pack.
Hougaard starts off the bench in a utility role which also allows Pienaar the option of having five forwards on the bench.
Arno Botha, who joined the Springboks last week ahead of the Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand and missed the Bulls' win over Western Province, is back at No 8 and will be joined by a returning Jacques Potgieter, who played for the Pretoria side in a solitary start three weeks ago.
While Pienaar was pleased with his selection options, he emphasised that returning players did not guarantee success against the defending champions on their home turf.
“All the teams will use their returning Springboks this weekend, so we are not in a unique or fortunate position," Pienaar said.
"We are privileged, though, to have guys back who really care about the daisy, the team and each other.
"We had no problem with the returning players slotting back in and I really look forward to the weekend.
"It is no secret that we are in dire straits in the competition, but if ever there were players I would have nominated to help, I have just named them in the team."
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morne Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dean Greyling