Bulls pick Pollard, Small-Smith
Handré Pollard (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke tweaked his backline for their Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Ludeke also changed his front row, but stuck with almost the same match 23 that came up short against the Force in Perth last weekend.
Ludeke included Junior World Cup winning players, William Small-Smith and Handré Pollard in the starting team for the first time this season and also gave prop Marcel van der Merwe a first start.
Small-Smith replaces JJ Engelbrecht, who moves to the bench in place of Ulrich Beyers, Pollard replaces Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Van der Merwe takes to the field with Werner Kruger being used as impact player this time around.
Callie Visagie returns to hooker, with Bongi Mbonambi on the bench and Bandise Maku dropping out.
Ludeke said it was time for rotating players again and expressed his confidence in the two 21 year olds earning their first start.
"Both Handré and William have slotted in well at this level and are eager to show what they have to offer. This is a good opportunity for them."
He admitted that his team is under pressure against a high-flying Cheetahs team, who earlier this year broke their Super Rugby duck against the Bulls.
"We are back at Loftus Versfeld where expectations are even higher and to be honest, not in a situation we wanted to be at this stage of the tournament. We need to get out of our losing streak and back to winning ways, not only to stay in the competition but to justify the hard work we have put in. I am confident that we can turn things around, as it is small things that are costing us at the moment."
Kick-off is at 17:05 on Saturday.
15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. William Small-Smith, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Grant Hattingh, 7. Jacques du Plessis, 6. Jono Ross, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Paul Willemse, 3. Marcel van der Merwe, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Morné Mellett, 18. Werner Kruger, 19. Jacques Engelbrecht, 20. Wimpie van der Walt, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23. JJ Engelbrecht
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Substitutes: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Ligtoring Landman, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Cornal Hendricks