Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made one change to his team to face defending Vodacom Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Akona Ndungane, who missed last week’s win over the Sharks because of compassionate leave, is back in the team in place of Sampie Mastriet and will play in his 101st match of Vodacom Super Rugby for the franchise.
Mastriet drops out of the match 23 altogether. Victor Matfield, who took over the captaincy of the team following the late withdrawel of Flip van der Merwe last weekend, will again lead the team into battle. “We managed to pick up some good momentum over the last couple of weeks and with no new injuries, we can look at maintaining that,” Ludeke said on Wednesday.
“Akona has played in all our matches this season and only missed last weekend because of his father’s passing, so we are keen to have him back. He brings a lot of experience and composure.”
Matfield admitted that the Chiefs will be a stern test. “They are not the champions for nothing. They are well-balanced with a lot of strike power at the back, but also have a solid and strong first phase in their play. We will have to be very accurate and use our changes if we want to be victorious,” he said.
The team is: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (c), Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Morné Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Grant Hattingh, Jono Ross, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.
Victor Matfield will play in his 130th match, a South African record for appearances in the Vodacom Super Rugby season. Of these, 121 were with the Vodacom Bulls and 8 with the Cats.
Matfield will also improve on his own South African record as captain, as he will lead the team for the 77th time in Super Rugby.
Francois Hougaard needs a try to get to 100 Vodacom Super Rugby points.