Pretoria - Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard will not play for the Bulls in Friday night's Currie Cup clash against the Pumas in Nelspruit.
With the Springboks currently in Argentina and Pollard nearing full fitness, there had been speculation that the 23-year-old might be given some game time against the Pumas.
That will not happen, though, and instead Tony Jantjies will continue in the No 10 jersey while Marnitz Boshoff is the flyhalf cover on the bench.
Nic de Jager will take the captain's armband while flank Boom Prinsloo is fit again and will start in the No 6 jersey in place of Shaun Adendorff, who replaced Prinsloo in the starting line-up against the Free State Cheetahs. Adendorff is out injured and will miss the match.
Executive of rugby, John Mitchell, takes over the official head coach reins this week and handed first starts to the season to prop Lizo Gqoboka and midfielder JT Jackson in a number of changes to the team.
Gqoboka was released by the Springboks and will start in place of Pierre Schoeman, while Jackson moves from then bench in place of injured Burger Odendaal.
Jannes Kirsten is also back to full fitness and comes back in the number 7 jersey, while Abongile Nonkontwana, who played there against the Cheetahs, moves to lock in place of injured Irné Herbst.
At scrumhalf Andre Warner will start, with Piet van Zyl playing off the bench in Nelspruit.
Boshoff, who joined the Blue Bulls from Connacht, is also in the match day squad while Johnny Kotze will add to his 16 Currie Cup appearances when he is introduced off the bench.
This will be a first Blue Bulls appearance for Kotze in the Currie Cup, having represented Western Province in last year’s competition.
Edgar Marutllule is another new face on the bench and replaces Johan Grobbelaar.
"We have started a process to take responsibility and ownership of performances and to take the Blue Bulls back to respected levels of competitiveness. We have a long way to go, but there will be no excuses. Hard work will be one of the main aspects behind this drive, but after three losses, we will also have to find the desire to win again," Mitchell said.
Captain De Jager admits that the Pumas will be a tough nut to crack.
"Credit to them, they were really good against Griquas last weekend and came away with a very good win in Kimberley. That win will boost their confidence and they are not an easy team to beat in Nelspruit. We will have to play to our full potential for the 80 minutes if we want to come away with a result," he said.
15 Gerrit Smith, 14 JP Lewis, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Hennie Skorbinski (captain), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Francois Kleinhans, 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Mark Pretorius 1 Kwezi Mona
Substitutes: 16 Frank Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Chris Cloete/Brian Shabangu, 20 Willie Engelbrecht, 21 Reynier van Rooyen, 22 Kobus Marais
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Nic de Jager (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutllule, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Clyde Davids, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Johnny Kotze