Bakkies Botha will lead a well balanced Vodacom Bulls team into battle against the Stormers at Newland on Saturday.
The Bulls official website reports that the first time captain will be followed onto the field by two debutants at this level, with Deon Helberg and Gerrit-Jan van Velze making Super debuts in a team that see 14 changes from the starting line-up of the side that beat the Crusaders 40-35 at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.
With the Bulls already assured of a first place finish on the Vodacom Super 14 log and a home semi-final next week, coach Frans Ludeke , opted for the luxury of resting his regular starting XV and giving remaining squad members and some newcomers to this level a chance to show their worth.
Only Jacques-Louis Potgieter started against the Crusaders (at centre), but now moves to his favourite fly-half position, while regular impact players like Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Pedrie Wannenburg, Derick Kuün, Flip van der Merwe, Bandise Maku and Bees Roux will earn starts.
Tiger Mangweni, De Wet Barry, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Dean Greyling, who all have Super 14 experience but have not played in the competition this year, will get a chance to add caps to their Super Rugby tally.
Botha expressed delight at being given the captaincy and said his team talk will be a simple one. “Play for the jersey. It stands for a lot of things and respect what it has achieved,” said Botha, who last captained the SA Schools side way back in 1998.
Coach Frans Ludeke said he picked the best available side for the occasion. “We had to rest some of our senior players, who have played all the matches this year and up to 960 minutes of rugby.
It is a good mix of experience and youth and also pays justice to our youth structures,” Ludeke said.
The team (with Super Caps) is:Tiger Mangweni (9), Jaco van der Westhuyzen (51), Stephan Dippenaar (11), De Wet Barry (78), Deon Helberg* (0), Jacques-Louis Potgieter (29), Heini Adams (35), Pedrie Wannenburg (110), Gerrit-Jan van Velze(0)*, Derick Kuün (53), Bakkies Botha (85, c), Flip van der Merwe (16), Bees Roux (28), Bandise Maku (18), Jaco Engels (39).
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle (18), Dean Greyling (2), Fudge Mabeta (1), Okkie Kruger (0)*, Ruan Snyman (0)*, Francois Brummer (0)*, Stefan Watermeyer (0)*.
*First Super 14 match.
• Tiger Mangweni will start in his first Bulls match, but played for the Vodacom Stormers (2, 2005) and the Vodacom Cheetahs (7, 2007) in previous campaigns.
• De Wet Barry will start in his first Bulls match, but played for the Vodacom Stormers from 2000-2007 and earned 78 caps. He did play for the Bulls against the Lions in a friendly match in Polokwane in January.
• Deon Helberg will start in his first Bulls match after making his Vodacom Cup debut earlier this season. He also represented South Africa in the International Rugby Board’s World Sevens Series.
• Gerrit-Jan van Velze will start in his first Bulls match after captaining the Vodacom Cup side to the Vodacom Cup last week. The former World Junior Player of the Year nominee played in the Absa Currie Cup for the Bulls in 2009.
• Okkie Kruger, Ruan Snyman, Francois Brummer and Stefan Watermeyer will all earn first Super 14 caps if they come off the bench on Saturday.
• Mangweni, Helberg, Van Velze, Engels, Ralepelle, Greyling, Mabeta, Kruger, Snyman, Brummer en Watermeyer were all in the starting XV of the Blue Bulls side that won the Vodacom Cup final against the Free State last weekend.