Bulls coach Frans Ludeke appears to be resting several front-line stars for their match against the Blues in Auckland this weekend, perhaps an early indication that the coach doesn’t believe his side can win against the tournament pace-setters.
Springboks Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Francois Hougaard have all been benched this week in a side that shows seven changes to the one that narrowly beat the Western Force at Loftus over the weekend. Frik Kirsten is handed a debut start at tighthead prop, while Willie Wepener will also start for the first time as a Bull (having obviously done so in Super Rugby for the Lions in the past). Scrumhalf Jano Vermaak gets only his second Super Rugby start for the Bulls, while Jurgan Visser, included on the bench, is completely uncapped at this level.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Jürgen Visser.