Serfontein back for Bulls

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 09:58

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Bulls coach Nollis Marais has made wholesale changes to his team to face the Sunwolves at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday.

The Bulls will play their first match at home in this year's Super Rugby tournament and will host the visitors from the Far East with a much-changed side from the one that lost to the Cheetahs two weeks ago.
 
Amongst the backs, the return of Springbok World Cup midfielder Jan Serfontein is the most significant. He will play his 49th Super Rugby match, but only his first in the season, after a delayed start due to injury. He replaces Dries Swanepoel in the midfield. 
 
Warrick Gelant will also earn a first start for the year in place of Jesse Kriel, who will start off the bench, while Piet van Zyl will start at scrumhalf for the first time this season. Ivan van Zyl will deputise for his namesake in his debut for the season, with Rudy Paige being rested. 
 
Up front, Lodewyk de Jager has now recovered from the concussion he sustained in the opening weekend of the season and will start at lock with Jason Jenkins. Rudolph Snyman reverts to the bench. Renaldo Bothma is also promoted to a starting berth in place of Jacques Potgieter, who is rested due to concussion, while Pierre Schoeman and Lizo Gqoboko again trade jerseys, with the latter playing off the bench.
 
Edgar Marutlulle will make a first start at hooker in Super Rugby for the Bulls after playing off the bench in the first two weeks. He replaces Jaco Visagie, who drops out of the matchday squad.
 
Two regulars from last season will make a first appearance off the bench. Adriaan Strauss and Jannes Kirsten recovered from injury and take over from Marutllule and Ruan Steenkamp respectively.
 
Steenkamp will start at No.6 in place of Nick de Jager, who drops out of the matchday squad.
 
According to Marais, the return of so many fit players allowed him to make wholesale changes.
 
"The likes of Jan [Serfontein] will be keen to get going, while those who is starting for the first time this season will enjoy the extended time on the field," said Marais.

"I believe this will freshen up our effort, which did not deliver the right results for us in the opening two matches. The Sunwolves were unlucky against the Cheetahs and gave the guys in Bloem a bigger fright than we did. We cannot underestimate them and there can be no excuses, but for us to deliver a good performance."
 
Bulls captain Handré Pollard welcomed the fact that they will be playing at Loftus Versfeld for the first time.
 
"This is our home and we cannot slip up here, especially if we want to bring the crowds back to Loftus. We had a slow start, but I am confident that we will pick up the pace from here and will be running with the leading pack soon," said Pollard.
 
"There was good energy in training the last couple of days and I am keen to see how the guys perform Friday night."
 
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 13 Jamba Ulengo, 12 Handré Pollard (captain), 11 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman. 
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboko, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel.

Date: Friday, March 17
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.00 (15.00 GMT; 02.00 Saturday, March 18 JST)
Referee: Jamie Nutbrown
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Stuart Berry
TMO: Willie Vos

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Fri, 24 March 2017
Crusaders v Force 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Waratahs 08h45 Melbourne
Glasgow Warriors v Connacht 17h15 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 19h05 Parc y Scarlets
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Dragons v Ulster 19h35 Rodney Parade
Sat, 25 March 2017
Blues v Bulls 06h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Highlanders 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Stormers 10h55 Singapore
Kings v Lions 13h05 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 14h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Saracens v Bath 15h00 Allianz Park
Leinster v Cardiff Blues 15h00 RDS Arena
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 15h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Sharks 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 26 March 2017
Wasps v Worcester Warriors 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Bristol v Gloucester 15h00 Ashton Gate
Mon, 27 March 2017
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks 14h45 Potchefstroom
Fort Hare v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Davidson Stadium
Wits v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Johannesburg
NMMU-Madibaz v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v WSU 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v UJ 17h00 Stellenbosch
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Brumbies 4 2 0 2 10
Reds 4 1 0 3 6
Force 3 1 0 2 5
Waratahs 4 1 0 3 4
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Pool NZ
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Chiefs 4 4 0 0 19
Crusaders 4 4 0 0 16
Hurricanes 4 3 0 1 15
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Highlanders 4 1 0 3 5
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 3 3 0 0 13
Cheetahs 4 2 0 2 9
Bulls 3 1 0 2 5
Sunwolves 4 0 0 4 1
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Jaguares 4 3 0 1 14
Lions 4 3 0 1 14
Sharks 4 3 0 1 13
Kings 4 1 0 3 5