Ludeke: I don't want to change
Pretoria - Injuries rather than form will be the measure when Bulls coach Frans Ludeke picks his team for Saturday's Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld.
The coach confirmed that he did not want to make any changes to the side that lost to the Western Force unless injuries necessitated it.
However, hookers Gary Botha and Chiliboy Ralepelle will swop roles because of a rotation agreement.
"Nothing changes, but Francois Hougaard and Dewald Potgieter's ankle injuries may well mean that neither of them are able to play against the Chiefs," said Ludeke.
"We'll give them until after (Wednesday's) training session to see how they have recovered. I will pick them if they are ready."
There could be eyebrows raised at the coach's decision not to want to change a team that has lost three consecutive games, but it also gives meaning to Ludeke's argument that the turning point of the season is here.
If Potgieter cannot play, Danie Rossouw will probably come in as No 7 flank, though Ludeke could also take on the Chiefs with two fetcher flanks in Deon Stegmann and Derick Kuün.
Rossouw is an excellent ball-carrier. He has not played much and should have plenty of gas in the tank.
Gerhard van den Heever could stand in for Hougaard without the team compromising on pace or finishing ability, but it will mean that a second scrumhalf has to be drawn up from the Vodacom Cup team.
Ruan Snyman, who should step in if Hougaard is not fit, has not played for a while due to injury. However, Ludeke says he will be fit enough to play if he's needed.
"I went to watch the Vodacom Cup team train this morning (Tuesday) and am satisfied that Ruan is looking sharp. He will undoubtedly be ready if Hougie is not available," said Ludeke.
"I'm hopeful on Hougie. He's still uncomfortable when stepping on his ankle, but injuries like that usually heal quite quickly."
If Hougaard does not play, Ludeke will need to pick four forwards and three backs on the bench against the Chiefs. If he plays, the coach will pick five forward substitutes, including the hardworking Juandré Kruger.
Much has been expected of Kruger, especially as it was thought beforehand that Victor Matfield would get more rest.
The Bulls captain has played every minute of every game and Kruger not a single minute - something that does not make sense from a national or Bulls perspective.