Bulls lose Kriel to concussion
Cape Town - The Bulls have suffered a major injury blow with the news that Jesse Kriel has been ruled out of this weekend's Super Rugby clash against the Rebels with a concussion.
Bulls coach Nollis Marais was due to name an unchanged team from the one that went down 33-9 to the Stormers at Newlands last weekend, but Kriel picked up the knock in training shortly before Wednesday's team announcement.
Kriel's place in the starting line-up will be taken by Burger Odendaal, who will play at No 12 while Jan Serfontein moves outside to No 13.
Dries Swanepoel replaces Kriel in the match-day squad.
Lock Grant Hattingh, set for his 50th Super Rugby cap this weekend, was named in the starting line-up, but he picked up a neck injury on Wednesday that will see him undergo a fitness test on Thursday morning.
"I said last week that I back our squad and although we let ourselves and our supporters down last weekend, I am confident that we can turn things around. We performed poorly in some areas of our game and paid the price. I am confident that we can turn that around and deliver a much better result in our first home match of the season," Marais said.
"We are under pressure to deliver on the expectations from our loyal fans and the Rebels will certainly not make it any easier for us. They showed against the Force last weekend that they can win tough matches away from home and play for 80 minutes. They edged us last year, so will travel here with a lot of confidence. In fact, I think they are the favourites for this."
The coach was adamant that his troops will be better this week.
"We know we can do much better. We worked hard this week and those small niggles were sorted out. We will need better possession and it is an area we will focus on," said Marais.
Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss congratulated Hattingh on his milestone.
"Grant really played well last weekend. He has been a real stalwart for the team in the last couple of seasons and I am pretty pleased that he can achieve his 50 match milestone in front of his home crowd at Loftus," said Strauss.
"That said, a real team effort will be needed to beat the Rebels. They are a very difficult team to play against as they play intelligent rugby and vary their game well. It is difficult to pin them down."
15 Warrick Gelant , 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel