Pretoria - Bulls coach Nollis Marais has named Hanro Liebenberg to lead his side against the Highlanders in Pretoria on Saturday.
Liebenberg will become the 19th
player to lead the Bulls since the inception of Super Rugby.
The former Junior Springbok captain missed out on last weekend's defeat against the Crusaders due to a
hamstring strain and comes back into the team in place of Renaldo Bothma.
Liebenberg takes over the
captain's armband from Adriaan Strauss, who has a foot injury. Strauss will
undergo scans to determine the extent of his injury.
Travis Ismaiel and Jacques
Potgieter have also been ruled out from last week's team.
They will be replaced
by Jade Stighling and Jannes Kirsten, respectively. Kirsten played off the bench
last weekend, but it will be a debut for Stighling, who turns 24 later this
The winger, who was schooled at
Hans Moore High in Benoni, has represented the Blue Bulls at age group
level and Currie Cup since 2013, but now gets a first start for the Bulls.
Marais made a number of personnel
changes to the pack. Jaco Visagie (for Strauss), Lizo Gqoboko (for Pierre
Schoeman), RG Snyman (for Lood de Jager) and a fit-again Ruan Steenkamp (for
Nick de Jager) will all start this week.
Edgar Marutlulle is also back in
the match 23 to fill the vacancy left by Visagie, while Coenraad van Vuuren was
named as back-up tighthead. He takes over from Jacobie Adriaanse. Van Vuuren
joined the Bulls on tour in New Zealand, but did not play, so could
make his debut for the team if he takes to the field.
There is also a potential debut
for flyhalf Tony Jantjies, who was named on the bench in place of injured
Francois Brummer. The 25-year old Jantjies will make his Bulls and Super Rugby debut, should he take to the field.
Marais said the changes was needed
to freshen up his team's effort.
"Look, to lose two former Springboks in
your pack is never nice and Travis was playing some great rugby as well," he said.
have had no luck with injuries, so I have accepted that part of the deal. What
I cannot accept though are the results we are producing. It does not do justice
to the hard work being put in by all. We need to be better at a number of
things and I believe we did the necessary adjustments to beat the
Liebenberg was keen for his team
to front up against the New Zealand side.
"It is a massive honour to lead
this team and what it stands for, but Saturday's effort will not be about me at
all," he said.
"It will be about the team taking responsibility of our performance out
there. The challenge is massive, as the Highlanders are one formidable
opponent, but we have to start showing progress and reward for the hard
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Coenraad van Vuuren, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tony Jantjies, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Matt Faddes, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 5 Alex Ainley, 4 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Aki Seiuli
Substitutes: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Teihorangi Walden