Pretoria - The Bulls will have to be extremely disciplined this weekend against the Stormers in Cape Town to claim a Super Rugby home semi-final berth, according to captain Dewald Potgieter.
“Discipline will be of the utmost importance and if we give the Stormers the same number of penalties we gave the Sharks, we will definitely be paying for it more severely,” Potgieter said in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“It's something we’ve addressed and we just can’t allow that same ill-discipline to ruin our effort.”
The Pretoria-based side had a close shave against the Sharks last weekend, winning by one point to finish top of the Super Rugby log.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named Francois Venter in the run-on side as replacement for Jan Serfontein, who injured his knee in the game against the Sharks.
Venter, who was fully recovered from a groin operation, looked to be back in form playing for the Blue Bulls, in a friendly match, against the Golden Lions last weekend.
The only other change to the starting XV sees scrumhalf Jano Vermaak receive a starting berth in place of Francois Hougaard.
“It is a pity but Hougaard's ankle injury flared up again but it is nothing serious - he just hasn't fully recovered from the weekend,” Ludeke said.
“But we are fine and Jano will start while Rudy Paige will be on the bench.”
The weekend could also see another up-and-coming youngster make his debut for the Bulls with South African under-20 flanker Jacques du Plessis possibly making an appearance off the bench.
The 19-year-old was one of the standout players during the Junior Springboks’ recent campaign at the IRB Junior World Championship in France.
Standing at 2.01 metres, the tall flank has been called into the match-day 22 in place of Wilhelm Steenkamp, who received a two-week suspension for foul play against the Sharks.
The Bulls could cement their place at the top of the Super Rugby log and ensure a home semi-final with a victory over the Stormers.
A first-place finish would also give them a break from the first round of playoffs, while a loss could see them feature in next week’s matches.
Meanwhile, the Bulls will be presented with the South African conference trophy.
“We said you have to be at the top of your conference if you want to succeed, so that is an achievement but nothing more than that,” Ludeke said.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played and we are really keen to finish on a high.”
15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana,
10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Rynhardt
Elstadt, 6. Deon Fourie (vice-captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Don Armand, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Damian de Allende
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Morné Mellet, 19 Jacques du
Plessis, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jürgen Visser