Pretoria - Loose forwards Tim Agaba and Marco van Staden will earn first starts in a revamped Blue Bulls loose trio that will face Western Province in their Currie Cup derby match at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday (14:30 kick-off).
Agaba and Van Staden both played off the bench against the Sharks last weekend and will slot in as flankers, with Nic de Jager moving to No 8, after an injury to Jannes Kirsten.
Jano Venter will start off the bench and provide cover for the locks as well.
Blue Bulls executive of rugby John Mitchell also added a fit-again Boom Prinsloo to the match-day squad as loose forward cover. Dayan van der Westhuizen is also fit again and will cover the front row from the bench.
In the only change at the back, Tony Jantjies comes in for Handre Pollard (Springboks) and will play off the bench.
The match against their traditional foes from the south will also bring up 50 Currie Cup matches for Marnitz Boshoff and Edgar Marutlulle.
The flyhalf also played for the Golden Lions and Griquas in the competition before and Maratlulle represented the Leopards and Golden Lions earlier in his career.
Mitchell said the quest to improve has not changed, neither did the objective within the group to improve week after week.
“We can do better in certain areas and have shown progress in others, one of which is some sort of consistency in team selection. That alone should bring some calm, especially in the backs, but also improved communication in defence, an aspect that was lacking last week,” the New Zealander said.
Mitchell does not harp on having yet another loose forward combination. “We have been really hampered with injuries amongst our loosies, but it does give the next player a chance to show what he can do and it will be like that again with Marco and Tim starting for the first time. Nic has played at No 8 this season, so should not have any problems in that role.”
Blue Bulls captain Burger Odendaal said the dangerous attackers in the visiting backline will be a huge challenge. “We will need to dominate the contact areas in order to put our backs and not theirs on the front foot. That will be crucial,” Odendaal said.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Ulrich Beyers