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Matfield headlines Bulls bolters

Wed, 26 Feb 2014 09:59
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Changes will invigorate team
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Victor Matfield and Jacques-Louis Potgieter are among the big bolters in the Bulls team to face the Lions in a Super Rugby showdown at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Jacques-Louis Potgieter, who features at flyhalf, will make his first appearance in a Bulls starting XV since May 2010.

The 29-year-old pivot is one of four changes made to the starting side that came up short in Bloemfontein last weekend.

The other bolters will see lock Matfield start at lock for the first time since 2011, Grant Hattingh moving to No.8, and Frik Kirsten starting at tighthead.

Matfield takes over from Hattingh at lock.

Potgieter replaces Louis Fouché, who drops out of the match 23 altogether.

Hattingh moves from lock to the back of the scrum in place of Jacques Engelbrecht, who drops down to the replacement bench.

Kirsten swap places with Werner Kruger, with the latter on the bench for this match.

Matfield's place on the bench will be taken by Paul Willemse, with Wiaan Liebenberg missing out.

The versatile Potgieter last played for the Bulls as a replacement centre in the Final of the 2010 showpiece, when the home side beat the Stormers in Soweto for back-to-back Super Rugby titles.

Hattingh, who has played as a flank for the Bulls and the Lions in Super Rugby before, will start at No.8 for the first time.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes the change in personnel will invigorate his side, who lacked composure in finishing off chances this far.

"Jacques-Louis [Potgieter] has 42 Super Rugby caps under his belt and need to show that for us, while we expect Victor [Matfield] to bring composure and calm to our set piece," Ludeke said.

"I am excited to see Grant [Hattingh] at No.8, he is a true footballer and read the play very well."

Flip van der Merwe, who took over the captaincy from Pierre Spies last week, will again lead the team into battle.

"We are way down on the standards we set for ourselves this season," Van der Merwe said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"This will be our first home game of the season and we are pleased about it after two difficult weekends in Durban and Bloemfontein.

"We are facing a rampant Lions team though who are playing with passion, skill and precision. We need to match them in those areas if we want to record our first win of the tournament."

Ludeke said it is still early in the competition, but the Bulls have to be honest with themselves.

"We cannot afford a repeat of the first two weekends, where we were lethargic and inaccurate in our set plays.

"The Lions are high on confidence, so we need not only to start well, but play with belief and commitment."

* Matfield will extend his record of the most capped South African in Super Rugby to 127 matches. He is still behind Morné Steyn (123) as most capped Bulls player though, having earned eight of his caps as a Cats player in his debut year.

* Francois Hougaard is one try short from 100 Super Rugby points.

* Ludeke (118 matches) will extend his record as the most experienced South African coach in Super Rugby. He is also the most experienced of all 15 coaches in the competition.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (captain), 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

Date: Saturday, March 1
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

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