Pretoria - Adriaan Strauss will become the most experienced South African in the Super Rugby competition when he takes to the field for the Bulls against the Stormers on Saturday (17:15 kick-off).
Strauss will play in his 149th match in the tournament, bettering the 148-match tally record he shared with Victor Matfield, another former Bulls captain.
Strauss, who made his debut for the Bulls in 2006, is one of four changes to the starting team for this north-south derby.
The veteran will start in place of Jaco Visagie, who moves to the bench, with Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier also swapping roles after the latter started at scrumhalf against the Crusaders last Friday.
The same will apply at blindside flank, where Marco van Staden will earn a first start for the year, with Roelof Smith playing off the bench.
Bulls coach John Mitchell also moved Hanro Liebenberg to lock in place of injured Lood de Jager, resulting in Thembelani Bholi slotting into the No 7 jersey vacated by Liebenberg.
The changes resulted in new combinations in the front row, lock, loose trio and the halfback positions, but Mitchell does not believe it will affect the overall performance.
“Whether you start or finish the game, I still expect a 100% effort from all the players and we want to start strong and finish strong. This will require a collective effort from all 23 players in the squad and everyone is well aware of their roles and responsibilities.”
Mitchell congratulated Strauss on his landmark.
“Adriaan has been a true servant of South African rugby and has left his mark with the Bulls, so it is fitting that he could reach that milestone in front of his home crowd. The Stormers are not travelling here for sentimental reasons though, so neither can we take the field with those. It will be a typical derby no doubt.”
Bulls captain Burger Odendaal feels that the energy from the home crowd after three weeks on the road will be a huge boost.
“We started the season well, but the results on tour were not what we wanted to achieve. Back home at Loftus now, we hope to find that extra gear to get our season back on track. No one in this team needs motivation to play well against the Stormers. They are on a roll and we need to be at our very best if we want to stay in the contest.”
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Hanro Liebenberg, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Frans van Wyk, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Hendré Stassen, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Johnny Kotze
15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian De Allende,
11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7
Cobus Wiese, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Jan de
Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Chris
van Zyl, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Jano Vermaak, 23