Vodacom Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday when they take on the MTN Lions in the Gauteng Rugby Cup at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
The veteran flanker makes a welcome comeback to the playing field after being side-lined with injury for most of the 2012 season and will lead a team that combines youth and experience and some new faces.
Stegmann is one of four Springboks in the starting line-up, which will also see 2012 Junior Bok gold medallists Travis Ismaiel, Jan Serfontein and Paul Willemse take the field, with Wiaan Liebenberg and Handrè Pollard on the bench.
Lionel Mapoe, on loan from the Lions, will start at outside centre.
“This is exciting times for us,” said Vodacom Bulls coach, Frans Ludeke.
“We are at the start of a new season and we cannot wait to get going. We have big plans and big dreams for 2013 and are keen to start. The Lions have played twice now and have that advantage, but we have worked hard in training and will give it a full go.”
Stegmann, who will return to Orlando Stadium, said the experience gained from the 2010 final against the Stormers at that venue is something they hope to use.
“The atmosphere was amazing then and it is good to be able to go back and play in front of our fans again. The Lions will certainly not make it easy, as they have a lot to prove, so we will have to find our combinations and feet from the start.”
The team is:
Jürgen Visser, Travis Ismaiel, Lionel Mapoe, Jan Serfontein, Sampie Mastriet, Tiaan Schoeman, Jano Vermaak (v/c), Arno Botha, Jean Cook, Deon Stegmann ©, Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Frik Kirsten, Willie Wepener, Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Hencus van Wyk, Wiaan Liebenberg, Cornell Hess, Ruan Snyman, Handrè Pollard, Ulrich Beyers, Jacques du Plessis.