Johannesburg - The struggling Blue Bulls, starting to show some fight in the Currie Cup, will pose a danger to their hosts in Saturday’s derby at Ellis Park, according to Lions coach John Mitchell.
"They’re starting to combine as a unit and they’re playing better together," Mitchell said of their opponents after naming his team on Wednesday.
"When you start to play together, you start to gain confidence, and that’s something I’ve noticed in them."
The Bulls, lying sixth in the standings, are fresh off a morale boosting 28-20 win over Western Province last week, but are still left with plenty of work to do with four games remaining before the playoffs.
The Lions, on the other hand, have lost only once this season, in a narrow defeat to Province last month, and have brought back key players who were rested in their 43-23 win over the Leopards last week.
Cobus "Baywatch" Grobbelaar, who will play his 100th Currie Cup match, returns to the run-on team, and Mitchell said they hoped to make the milestone special for the flanker with a victory against their Gauteng rivals.
"The team comes first, but it’s important to recognise the significance of his individual achievement," said Mitchell.
"It’s quite emotional for him and the guys are pretty pumped up."
In a positional change to the starting XV, Michael Rhodes moves from flank to lock in place of Johan Snyman.
Wikus van Heerden, who picked up a knee injury against Griquas two weeks ago, has been ruled out for the rest of the season, but even if he was available, Mitchell said Rhodes would have worn the No 4 jersey.
"Michael Rhodes was going to start at lock against the Bulls anyway," said Mitchell.
"It’s unfortunate, what’s happened to Wikus, but Rhodes is a far more physical and direct forward and, for a match against the Bulls, that’s something I like."
Winger Deon van Rensburg also returns from being rested last week, replacing Jannie Boshoff in the starting team.
Lock David Bulbring takes a spot on the bench from Jaco Kriel in the only change to the replacements.
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Burton Francis, 22 James Kamana
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Louis Fouche/Francois Brummer, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (captain), 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Francois Brummer/Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jurgen Visser
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