Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made 13 changes to the team that lost to the Lions in a warm-up last Saturday, for Friday night’s match against the Cheetahs in Polokwane.
Sapa reports that it is Ludeke’s strongest available team and includes eight Springboks. The three Springboks that faced the Lions, Danie Rossouw, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Pedrie Wannenburg, won’t start on Friday. Rossouw and Ralepelle are on the enlarged bench of 11 players while Wannenburg is not in the squad.
The only two players that ran on against the Lions are Marius Delport, who is now back at centre, and Werner Kruger.
Jaco Pretorius was the coaches’ first choice at outside centre but because of a niggling calf injury, a call on his availability to play from the bench will only be made later this week.
Team doctor Org Strauss said on Wednesday Pretorius has recovered from his back injury but his calf is still troubling him.
Delport, who filled in as centre last season, will now again partner Wynand Olivier in the midfield with fullback Zane Kirchner and Springbok wings Akona Ndungane and Bryan Habana forming a potent back three.
Among the forwards Dewald Potgieter gets the nod as Pierre Spies and Deon Stegmann’s partner in the loose trio while Derick Kuun is preferred to Ralepelle as hooker.
Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, Marius Delport, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Derick Kuun, Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Frik Kirsten, Dean Greyling, Danie Rossouw, Heini Adams, Burton Francis, Wayne Julies, Gerhard van den Heever, Braam Gerber/Jaco Pretorius, Jacques Burger, Wilhelm Steenkamp