Lions locks starting for Bulls
Injuries and rotation played a major role in Bulls coach Frans Ludeke’s call to name an almost new side for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Reds in Brisbane.
An unsatisfactory loss to the Crusaders last weekend also resulted in at least four players being ruled out of the remainder of the tour and only six players who started in Christchurch will do so again this weekend.
Fullback Zane Kirchner, outside centre JJ Engelbrecht, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, No.8 and captain Pierre Spies, flank Deon Stegmann and loose head prop Morné Mellett are all in the run-on side again.
The return to fitness of Lionel Mapoe and Bjorn Basson will see both try-scoring aces on the wing, whilst Francois Venter will replace injured Wynand Olivier at inside centre.
Flyhalf Louis Fouché will also earn a first start in Super Rugby, but the strappy pivot will be playing in his 15th match at this level.
Record-breaking flyhalf and the most experienced player in the side, Morné Steyn will play off the bench for the first time in a couple of seasons.
Up front, the fit-again Dewald Potgieter takes over from Arno Botha at No.7, whilst a new lock combination in Grant Hattingh and Paul Willemse will start for the first time in their Bulls careers.
Both played for the Lions last year.
Regular starter Juandrè Kruger will play off the bench and Flip van der Merwe is injured.
Springbok front row players Chiliboy Ralepelle and Werner Kruger also returns to the starting team ahead of Willie Wepener and Frik Kirsten.
On the bench, Ruan Snyman replaces the injured Francois Hougaard. Snyman’s only start for the Bulls was in 2010.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Juandré Kruger, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Jan Serfontein.
Date: Saturday, March 23
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.40 (10.40 SA time; 08.40 GMT)
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)