Pretoria - Blue Bulls hooker Bandise Maku will play in his 50th Currie Cup match for the men from Pretoria when they face EP Kings at Loftus Versfeld on Friday (19:10 kick-off).
The former Springbok hooker made his Blue Bulls debut way back in 2006 and after stints with the Golden Lions and Eastern Province, now reaches this milestone in his 73th career Currie Cup appearance.
Maku started in last weekend's win over the Sharks, with coach Nollis Marais changing one in the pack that fronted up in Durban.
RG Snyman starts at lock in his first run-on for the senior side, swapping places with Marvin Orie, who will play off the bench.
In another change, Corniel Els is on the bench for Jaco Visagie, with the latter out with an ankle sprain.
Among the backs, Dries Swanepoel is back at centre, replacing Jan Serfontein who received a World Cup call-up for the Springboks.
His place on the bench will be filled by William Small-Smith.
"I am very happy for Bandise, as he is back where he made his name. He became a Springbok here and achieved great success with us before he left. He is almost back to that type of form and I know he is very proud to play in his 50th for us at Loftus where it all started for him," Marais said.
"We need to secure a playoff spot and a solid performance against the EP Kings will secure that. We have played some good rugby this season, but also had our lapses, so the big challenge will be to perform again as a unit," Marais indicated.
"The Kings are dangerous and play for 80 minutes as they have shown last weekend, so we are going to need all 22 players to deliver on the night.”
Blue Bulls captain, Lappies Labuschagne, is well aware of the fact that it could be their last game at home.
"We need two very good performances to host the semi-final, so if we slip up, this will be our last home game. We owe our supporters more than that. We trained well and with purpose, so we should be very competitive on Friday," he said.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Marvin Orie, 19 Ruan Steenkamp, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 William Small Smith
Eastern Province Kings:
15 Scott van Breda, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead (captain), 11 Luther Obi, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Paul Schoeman, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Dwayne Kelly, 22 Karlo Aspeling