Bulls stick with all-Bok centre pair
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Springboks centre pair Jesse Kriel and Jan Serfontien will continue their partnership for the Bulls when their face the Sharks on Saturday in Round 15 of the Super Rugby.
Kriel missed the Springboks second Test against France after he suffered a concussion. However, the 23-year-old recovered fully and don the number 13 jersey - ahead of Lions' Lionel Mapoe - for the final Test this past weekend.
His partner Serfontain had a remarkable Test Series and will wear the No.12 jersey for only the second time in this season.
The Bulls have been battered with injuries which has forced head coach Nollis Marais to refurbish his side.
Handre Pollard's recent injury setback, Tony Jantjies gets the pivotal role, while Tian Schoeman takes a seat on the bench.
Other force changes in the backline see regulars Jamba Ulengo and Trevis Ismail replaced by Duncan Mathews and debutant Kefentse Mahlo. The duo have an opportunity to put in a noteworthy performance out wide.
The other two debutants in 23-man squad are Andre Warner and Shaun Adendorff, which will win their first Super Rugby cap if they make an appearance from the bench.
Marais made two changes to the starting pack. Nick de Jager is promoted off the bench and will start at No.8 in place of injured Hanro Liebenberg.
Rudolph Snyman is also available again following his suspension and will combine with Jason Jenkins with Lood de Jager been ruled out with a groin injury.
"We have a lot to play for still. The guys want to finish the season strong and as you can expect from a local derby, will be desperate to win this one against the Sharks, so we are pretty keen to get going again.
"Our Springboks are in good nick. We are really blessed in the midfield [in terms of the return of Kriel and Serfontein]" Marais said.
Commenting on the three debutants, Marais stated:
"We have three debuts this week, it is always good for the guys coming in, but obviously you want to field your strongest and experienced side.
"But it is what is its is, the guys just have to prove themselves and show they can play on that level,"
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten , 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman , 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka , 18 Johnroy Jenkins, 19 Shuan Adendorff, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Andre Warner , 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tian Schoeman
Date: Friday, June 30
Venue: King Park, Durban
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)