Liebenberg leads Bulls into battle
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais made two forced changes to his Currie Cup starting team that will play the Pumas in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Marais was forced to replace the injured Duncan Matthews and Arno Botha, who both started in the win over the Golden Lions last weekend, and handed starts to Ulrich Beyers and Nic de Jager respectively. Hanro Liebenberg will take over the captaincy from Botha and De Jager the No.7 jersey.
Both newcomers played off the bench last weekend and their spots as impact players will be taken by Divan Rossouw and Irné Herbst.
Utility back and regular Blue Bulls Under-21 player Rossouw will make his debut should he take the field.
The other two changes are of rotational nature with Bandise Maku taking over from Jaco Visagie at hooker. Maku will wear the No.2 jersey and Visagie No.16, swopping roles from last weekend. Maku has not started a match for the Blue Bulls so far in the campaign. Lizo Gqoboka will start at loosehead, with Pierre Schoeman sitting out this one in the other rotational change.
"We are playing our most important match of the season, so I am happy to have a side with a fair bit of momentum and consistency in selection," Marais said.
"Consistency is of paramount importance for us at this stage of the season as we are yet to deliver two back-to-back performances of note. The Pumas would have targeted this game as a must-win, but we are also pretty desperate for a second win on the trot."
Liebenberg will lead the side for the first time in the Currie Cup.
"It is pretty special and a dream come true. One only needs to look at previous captains to realise what an honour this is to lead such a talented and fine group of players. That said, we need to go out and deliver. We cannot expect people to support and respect us if we don't play to the best of our abilities. There is a massive challenge that awaits us, but that is exactly what we need in order to prove our credentials as a team that can contest the Currie Cup."
Blue Bulls: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Irné Herbst, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Divan Rossouw.
Date: Saturday, September 10
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Marnus Meiring
TMO: Willie Vos