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Jean to Cook for Bulls

Wed, 27 Feb 2013 10:22
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Van der Merwe gets his half-ton
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Former South African schools star Jean Cook is set to make his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls against the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Injuries to Springboks Dewald Potgieter (knee ligaments) and Deon Stegmann (hamstring) forced coach Frans Ludeke to make a number of changes to his team that beat the Stormers last week.

Fellow Boks Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha will replace them on the flanks.

The 21-year-old Cook, who represented the SA Schools team in 2009 and moved from the Cheetahs to the Bulls last year, comes onto the bench and will make his Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.

Cook was scheduled to play for the University of Pretoria in a Varsity Cup match against their Stellenbosch rivals on Monday, but the Tuks loose forward was pulled out of the squad late on Monday, after the Bulls were informed that two of their Bok flanks will not be available or the encounter with the Force.

* Meanwhile lock Flip van der Merwe will play in his 50th Super Rugby match when his team takes on the Force.

Van der Merwe has played six of his previous 49 Super Rugby matches for the Cheetahs, whilst still a student in Bloemfontein, and the commerce graduate has since reeled off 43 matches for the Bulls.

The Bok lock will again combine with Juandrè Kruger in the engine room, but it is behind them in the scrum where the most significant changes are to the team that beat the Stormers last weekend.

The backline also has a significant change.

Bok Lionel Mapoe moves from wing to outside centre in place of the injured JJ Engelbrecht (hip flexor), with Sampie Mastriet to make his debut on the right wing.

Jan Serfontein has also been named on the bench and replace Francois Venter in the No.22 shirt.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was pleased to have Springbok experience to fall back on, but warned that it guarantees nothing against an opponent that has beaten the Bulls at Loftus before.

"Last week was last week," Ludeke said, adding: "We are grateful for the win, but this week we face a new opponent that will post new challenges.

"The Western Force has been a difficult opponent in the past and will again ask questions to our all round game and our defence. We have prepared well though and will be looking forward to the challenge."

Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted that a good performance would be paramount for his side before they embark on their overseas leg of the competition.

"We cannot look past this match as it will determine the mind-set we will take onto tour. So this is a very important match for us," Spies said.

Milestones for the Bulls this week:
* Flip van der Merwe will play in his 50th Super Rugby match.
* Morné Steyn continues to extend his points record in the competition. He has now scored 1221 points (11 tries, 211 conversions, 224 penalties and 24 drop-goals), all of which are South African records.
* Wynand Olivier will play in his 104 match for the Bulls, making him the most experienced South African midfielder in Super Rugby. He has also scored 29 tries, the most in the squad.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Jan Serfontein.

Date: Saturday, March 2
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa),Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

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