Cape Town - Experienced loose forward Dewald Potgieter will captain the Bulls for the first time this weekend and will shift to No 8 in place of regular skipper Pierre Spies, who has been ruled out for the remainder of 2013 with a bicep injury.
The Vodacom Bulls face the Southern Kings at Loftus Versfeld at 17:05 on Saturday as Super Rugby resumes after the break for the June Tests. In total, the starting team shows eight changes from the side which beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein earlier this month.
Potgieter’s namesake, Jacques Potgieter, returns to the loose trio at blindside flank for the injured Arno Botha, where he will partner Deon Stegmann, who starts at openside. Versatile loose forward Jono Ross will make his debut for the Bulls should he get gametime off the bench.
At lock, Grant Hattingh comes in for Juandré Kruger, who will start off the bench.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made a number of changes in the backline. Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner is back in the starting team after a long injury lay-off, while Akona Ndungane, Wynand Olivier and Louis Fouché will start against the Kings.
Ndungane replaces the injured Lionel Mapoe at right wing. Morné Steyn (flyhalf) and JJ Engelbrecht (centre), two of the Springboks’ stars in their recent clean-sweep of the Incoming Series, will both get a break from the bench.
It’s Olivier’s last game for the Vodacom Bulls before he leaves for Montpellier in France and he will partner new Springbok centre Jan Serfontein, who moves from inside to outside centre, for the first time in the midfield. Fouché gets his second start of the year.
“It’s good to have a few of our front-line players back as we head into the business end of the competition, especially since we’ve lost a few players to injury,” said Ludeke.
“This is a massive game for us - each game in Super Rugby is - but we’ve set our goals for the season and now is the time to make sure we achieve them. The Kings will not be an easy opponent, as there is no such thing in this competition.
“We simply need to ensure we stick to what has been working for us thus far this year and the guys who are getting opportunities need to put their hands up on Saturday.”
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 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
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Juandré Kruger, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 JJ Engelbrecht
15 SP Marais, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12
Andries Strauss (captain), 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9
Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell
du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku,
1 Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16 Grant Kemp, 17 Hannes
Franklin, 18. Rynier Bernardo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo,
21 George Whitehead, 22 Shane Gates