Serfontein to face Cheetahs
The Bulls team to play the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday has been bolstered by the return of two seasoned Springboks.
The Bulls team to play the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday has been bolstered by the return of two seasoned Springboks, Akona Ndungane and Flip van der Merwe.
Ndungane has recovered from the eye socket injury sustained against the Crusaders four weeks ago and will start in his 87th Super Rugby match for the three time champions.
Van der Merwe, who picked up a chest muscle injury in the same Christchurch clash, will appear in his 53rd Super match, with six of those in Cheetahs colours earlier in his career.
They replace Jürgen Visser and Paul Willemse respectively, with Visser taking over at fullback from injured Zane Kirchner and Willemse moving to the bench.
The other noteworthy selection is the decision to keep former Grey College star Jan Serfontein at inside centre - with the new Springbok training squad member set to go head-to-head with Robert Ebersohn, who was also called up to the national squad for the first time this week.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, who has eased Serfontein slowly into the senior ranks after his Player of the Tournament performance at the IRB Junior Championship last year, said the young midfielder always knew he would get his opportunities.
"They are all learning from a seasoned player like Wynand [Olivier]," Ludeke told this website.
"We have Francois Venter and Jan [Serfontein] there, who are both very good centres.
"We have a responsibility to ensure we bring the players through and give them the opportunities - they have the qualities to play at Super Rugby level and make a difference.
"Francois and Jan proved themselves in the game they featured in - they showed they can make a difference and a big impact for us at that level."
Ludeke also made a tactical switch from the side that suffered a last gasp defeat against the Brumbies two weeks ago, with Frik Kirsten starting at tight head and veteran prop Werner Kruger playing off the bench.
"We are happy with the squad rotation and with a couple of stalwarts still out injured, has given some of our youngsters good opportunities to play," Ludeke said.
"We feel that we left some points on the road, but now have a good stretch back home where we play ourselves back into those important play-off positions," the coach added.
"The rest did wonders to all and I am pleased with the way we prepared for this one."
The match could also see a first Bulls appearance for scrumhalf Rudi Paige and utility back Ulrich Beyers, while Lions loan player Callie Visagie has been drafted in to give hooker Willie Wepener a rest.
With Francois Hougaard still nursing an ankle injury, Paige will back-up Jano Vermaak and Beyers will replace a sore Francois Venter as a backs replacement.
Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Rudi Paige, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Date: Saturday, April 13
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)