Bulls embrace rotation policy

    2013-03-14 18:17

    Johannesburg - The Bulls have put a spin on Greek philosopher Heraclitus' theory that the only constant is change as they dabble with a rotational system in this year's Super Rugby competition.

    The squad system has held them in good stead so far this season and they will hope for another strong showing in their tough encounter against seven-time champions, the Crusaders, in Christchurch on Saturday.

    With three victories out of as many matches since the start of the season, there has been little need for the Pretoria side to make wholesale changes to their team, with the exception of a few injury enforced adjustments.

    However, when the need arose to replace injured players, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was in the fortunate position of selecting men with a wealth of experience in those positions.

    "We would like to get a rotation system going. We have a strong squad and we said it at the beginning that as a squad we wanted to be better than last year and keep everyone almost alive, if you want to call it that," Ludeke said.

    "We have depth in all positions and so far it worked well for us."

    On the wing, Bulls stalwart Akona Ndungane, with 85 Super Rugby matches behind his name, made his return to the side last week, while scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, in for Francois Hougaard, has racked up 91 matches.

    Only a handful of players have made their debut for the Bulls in Super Rugby this year with the likes of Morné Mellett, Sampie Mastriet, Jean Cook and Jan Serfontein getting their first taste of top-flight rugby.

    "It is not just about giving everybody an opportunity, it is also when someone's got niggling injuries or mental fatigue, and that is exactly what the situation is at the moment," Ludeke said.

    "It is about managing niggling injuries and giving guys more time to recover through the week."

    The Bulls are one of only three unbeaten teams in the competition and they will have to rewrite the history books if they want to retain their winning record.

    The Pretoria side have never beaten the Crusaders in their own country in Super Rugby and a victory will ensure their first consecutive triumph over New Zealand teams on tour following their historic win over the Blues last week.

    "It is a completely new match against a team with a lot of character and history in this competition and they know what to do when the pressure is on," Ludeke said.

    "So we know we have to be at our best this weekend and it is the plan to make sure we put good things together and we execute our plan."

    Bulls captain Pierre Spies said the Crusaders were close to a complete side, who would test them in all facets of the game.

    "The Crusaders are very good in their set phases... they have world class players front and back and they have a good kicking game," Spies said.

    "It is a different challenge and when we play them here (New Zealand) they win and when we play there (South Africa) we win.

    "We have a plan on the table that we will have to execute well as it is always difficult to win away from home."



    15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett

    Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock


    15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Jürgen Visser, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett

    Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Jan Serfontein

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