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Break helped Bulls - Ludeke
Frans Ludeke (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says the three-week hiatus from Super Rugby, during the inbound England tour, provided an opportunity to regroup before they restart their campaign against the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
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While the majority of Ludeke's players were on duty with the Springboks, not all of them were used in the series, and it gave the other players time to rest.
The holiday, however, was over, according to Ludeke, and the Bulls, lying fifth on the overall log, needed to hit the ground running against the Cheetahs after losing their three previous matches.
“It was small margins and we were competitive till the end,” Ludeke said at the team announcement on Wednesday.
“It is more important how we kick-on from here, because that is in the past.
“We want to be more accurate and we need an all-round game going into the Cheetahs match.”
Ludeke made only one change to his run-on side to face the Cheetahs with newly capped Springbok Jacques Potgieter replacing CJ Stander at blindside flank.
With Potgieter and lock Juandré Kruger having made their debuts for the national side, the Bulls now have a full complement of Springboks in their starting forward pack.
Stander - who has announced his departure from the Bulls at the end of the season to pursue a lucrative contract with Irish club side Munster - replaces Arno Botha on the bench.
“He [Stander] still needs to play a big role in our campaign," Ludeke said.
"Obviously Jacques was the starting blind-sider. He is fit and ready to go and he also had his first Test last weekend.
"CJ will be used in a different capacity as an impact player.”
Fit-again Frik Kirsten is the other change, replacing Rayno Gerber on the bench.
The versatile prop has recovered from a broken hand, which he sustained on the Australian leg of their overseas tour.
An essential player in the Bulls set-up, Morné Steyn, struggled with his place-kicking for the Springboks in the recent England series.
Ludeke, however, said they would continue to back the Bulls pivot and believed Steyn would find his form on Saturday.
“Morne is very comfortable with himself and he knows what is going on there and keen to rectify that,” said the Bulls mentor.
“We are positive and we believe in him. It is times like these that you need to back players and show faith.
“We know what he can do and we are confident that he will be back on his game this weekend.”
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Francois Venter
15. Willie le Roux, 14. Philip Snyman, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Rocco Jansen, 10. Riaan Smit, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Ashley Johnson, 7. Pieter Labuschagne, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Izak van der Merwe, 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. Marcel van der Merwe, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16. Hercu Liebenberg, 17. WP Nel, 18. George Earl, 19. Justin Downey 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Nico Scheepers