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    Bulls' plan for flexible Serfontein

    2017-03-15 13:02

    Pretoria - Friday night represents a fresh start for the Bulls and coach Nollis Marais. 

    After losing their first two matches of the season against the Stormers and Cheetahs, the Bulls were then given an early bye in round three to pull themselves together. 

    They are now back at Loftus for the first time in 2017 where a clash against Japan's Sunwolves awaits. 

    It is a match that, on paper, the Bulls will be expected to win comfortably ahead of a daunting tour to New Zealand for fixtures against the Blues and Chiefs. 

    Captain Handre Pollard says the bye came at the right time for the Bulls, and there is a far more familiar feeling to this Bulls line-up as Jan Serfontein and Adriaan Strauss return from injury. 

    Serfontein goes straight into the starting line-up while Strauss will play off the bench. 

    Marais is thrilled to have two of his most experienced players back and he spoke about the role he sees Serfontein playing. 

    "We've trained the whole pre-season with Jan Serfontein at 13 and then we've also moved him to 12 and put Jesse (Kriel) at 13 as well," Marais said.

    "Jan is a special player.

    "Our plan at the moment is to use Jan at 13 and then, in the second half, if things are going well we will move him to 12 and move Jesse 13. It's a bit of a rotation thing but also with an eye to the future."

    Serfontein's return means that there is no place in the match-day squad for Dries Swanepoel. 

    "I think that Dries has played really well. Leaving him out had nothing to do with him playing badly or under-performing or anything like that," said Marais.

    "Jan is an experienced rugby player. He is a Springbok and a Springbok for a reason. It helps that he brings a bit of stability to the backline.

    "He's played a lot with Handre (Pollard) and they have a good understanding. It helps a lot."

    Friday night's match kicks off at 19:00.

    Teams:

    Bulls

    15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman

    Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel

    Sunwolves

    15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shumei Matsuhashi, 6 Ed Quirk (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Koki Yamamoto

    Substitutes: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Heiichiro Ito, 19 Liaki Moli, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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