Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar has recalled CJ Stander from the (relative) wilderness of the bench to start against the Sharks in Durban on Friday night, but Bok wing Bjorn Basson will need to wait another week to make his return to the side.
Stander has, understandably, fallen something out of favour in Bulls country after confirming his decision to leave for Ireland at the end of the year; that said, his exploits off the bench so far this year have more often than not proved decisive in those matches that the Bulls have won. Stander will start at number 8 this week, with Arno Botha shifting to blind side flank in place of Bok-bound Jacques Potgieter and Dewald Potgieter continuing to captain the side from the open side. Warwick Tecklenburg comes onto the bench.
Basson was widely tipped to return at left wing, but he’s been given an extra week to work on his fitness, with Sampie Mastriet enjoying a second start after impressing against the Cheetahs. Injured flyhalf Louis Fouche will be given as much time as possible to recover, but has been bracketed with Lionel Cronje in the number 10 jersey; should Fouche cry off, former Sharks junior Willie du Plessis could make his long-awaited senior Currie Cup debut.
The final change on the bench see Grant Hattingh come in for Cornell Hess as second row cover.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Louis Fouchè/Lionel Cronjè, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Bongo Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjè/Willie du Plessis, 22 Ulrich Beyers.