Pretoria - It may be too early to say if the Vodacom Bulls will be able to defend their Super 14 title, but their players are certainly racking up the milestones along the way.
Springbok utility forward Danie Rossouw becomes the latest player after Victor Matfield and Pedrie Wannenburg this season to reach 100 games for the Bulls, and was the only change to the side that beat the Sharks last weekend for Friday’s showdown with seven time Super rugby champions, the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld.
Rossouw replaces Bakkies Botha, who drops down to the bench for the match, allowing the big lock/flank to run out onto the park for his milestone game in style and hopefully play a big part in sending the Bulls into the semi-finals of the competition.
Of course, the Bulls could be virtually assured of a semi-final place if the Reds lose to the Hurricanes on Friday morning, but they will take a massive step towards ending top of the log if they beat the Crusaders with a bonus point. Matfield paid tribute to Rossouw’s milestone, describing him as an “exceptional team player.”
“It’s great partnering either Danie or Bakkies at lock and I’m sure that if there wasn’t Bakkies, then Danie would have 70 or 80 Test matches already behind his name,” Matfield said.
“He is a great player and extremely valuable to a team. That is why he is always with the Springboks and with the Bulls. Many of his games may have been off the bench, but I don’t think people realize how valuable he is to both the Bulls and the Boks.
“People need to understand the impact he made from the bench. His running lines and his ball carries are crucial to our success and that makes him a very special player to us.”
Rossouw has played 46 Tests and has impressed with his versatility, playing lock, flank and No 8 in his time at the Bulls. Former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer still rates Rossouw as one of the best locks in world rugby today.
Rossouw has scored five tries in his 100 games, but often is the link man in the initial break that ends up over the tryline for the Bulls. His last try was during the 2009 Super 14 final. He also played No8 for the Springboks in the 2007 World Cup final.
He still rates that World Cup gold medal as a career highlight, with the 2008 Currie Cup final defeat against the Sharks as his worst day in rugby. In the only other change to the match 22, utility back Jaco van der Westhuyzen comes into the side in the place of Heini Adams.
Flyhalf Morné Steyn needs just six points to equal Dan Carter’s record of the fastest 200 points in Super rugby history in just 12 games.
15. Zane Kirchner; 14. Gerhard van der Heever, 13. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Francois Hougaard; 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez; 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield (capt), 4. Danie Rossouw, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Gary Botha, 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Substitutes: 16. Bandise Maku, 17 . Bees Roux, 18. Bakkies Botha, 19. Pedrie Wannenburg, 20. Stephan Dippenaar, 21. Jaco van der Westhuyzen.