Bulls' Bok sets new benchmark
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Bulls' Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss will set a new Super Rugby benchmark at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Strauss will become the most experienced South African in Super Rugby when he takes to the field for the Bulls against the Stormers on Saturday.
Strauss will play in his 149th match in the tournament, bettering the 148-match record he shared with Victor Matfield, another former Bulls captain.
Strauss, who made his debut for the Bulls in 2006, is one of four changes to the starting team for the big North/South derby.
The veteran will start in place of Jaco Visagie, who moves to the bench, with Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier also swapping roles after the latter started at scrumhalf against the Crusaders last Friday.
The same will apply at blindside flank, where Marco van Staden will earn a first start for the year, with Roelof Smith playing off the bench.
Bulls coach, John Mitchell, also moved Hanro Liebenberg to lock in place of injured Lodewyk de Jager, resulting in Thembelani Bholi slotting into the No.7 jersey vacated by Liebenberg.
The changes resulted in new combinations in the front row, lock, loose trio and the halfback positions, but Mitchell does not believe it will affect the overall performance.
"Whether you start or finish the game, I still expect a 100 percent effort from all the players and we want to start strong and finish strong," Mitchell said.
"This will require a collective effort from all 23 players in the squad and everyone is well aware of their roles and responsibilities."
Mitchell congratulated Strauss on his landmark.
"Adriaan has been a true servant of South African rugby and has left his mark with the Bulls, so it is fitting that he could reach that milestone in front of his home crowd.
"The Stormers are not travelling here for sentimental reasons though, so neither can we take the field with those. It will be a typical derby no doubt."
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Hanro Liebenberg, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Frans van Wyk, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Hendre Stassen, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Johnny Kotze.
Date: Saturday, March 31
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)