We felt he will serve us better as an impact player this weekend
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is expecting a big impact from Springbok openside flank Deon Stegmann in Christchurch on Saturday.
Ludeke made only one change to the side for their Super Rugby play-off match with the Crusaders - fit-again Flip van der Merwe will partner fellow Bok Juandré Kruger at lock and Wilhelm Steenkamp drops down to the bench.
Stegmann, who played a 17-minute cameo in the win over the Lions last week after coming back from injury, remains on the bench for the encounter with the seven-time champions.
"The players proved themselves throughout the year .. what the best combinations are, especially for this game," Ludeke told this website, when asked about the decision to keep his loose forward combination intact from last week.
"It is great to have Deon Stegmann on the bench," he said, adding: "It is a pity for CJ Stander to lose his place [in the matchday 22] because somebody came back [from injury]."
Asked if he was tempted to start Stegmann, Ludeke said they are well aware of what the six-Test Bok openside player's abilities are at the breakdown.
The 26-year-old secured two crucial turnovers and made a number of tackles, but is again tasked with an impact role.
"We felt he will serve us better as an impact player this weekend and he is determined make a big contribution," Ludeke said.
"We know it will take a huge, 80-minute effort [against the Crusaders] and the flipside is that we have an experienced player who can come in an make a big contribution [off the bench]."
These sentiments were echoed by captain Pierre Spies.
"You have to use every bit of experience and the players who have it must bring it to the fore," Spies said.
"We have enough experience in the team and it is a great challenge to us as a group."
By Jan de Koning