The Vodacom Blue Bulls’ enforcer, Bakkies Botha, has made a full recovery after injuring his medial ligaments in the Vodacom Tri-Nations and was included by coach Frans Ludeke in his starting XV for Friday’s match in Rustenburg against the Leopards.
Botha is going to play in the second row besides captain Victor Matfield and due to the injury of Pierre Spies, Danie Rossouw was selected at number 8.
Spies injured some of his finger ligaments against the Griquas and will not be able to play on Friday but Dr Org Strauss is confident that the monster number 8 will be fit for the play offs.
As a result of Bryan Habana’s hamstring injury (he injured tendons in the upper part of his hamstring) Gerhard van den Heever regains the number 11 jumper, but Fourie du Preez will ease his way back into the team by playing off the bench.
Ludeke said at the weekly press conference which was held at Loftus on Tuesday that he kept the core of the team that played in the previous two matches unchanged because at this stage of the season continuity is of utmost importance.
“We know that we are in a semi-final and therefore our focus will be on our own game.
“We want to fine-tune some aspects of our game for the reason that everything must be 100 percent before we go into the play offs.”
Ludeke added that the Leopards have been playing some quality rugby during the course of the last month and he and his team aren’t expecting any favours from Chaka Willemse’s team.
“It is going to be very tough in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. The Leopards will take us on physically, but we will only focus on the goals that we set for ourselves.”
Matfield said that the Blue Bulls are slowly but surely starting to gel as a team and he was pleased with the improvement that the team has made since the Boks have returned.
“The most important thing is that we keep our heads for the full 80 minutes.
“We do not have a lot of tricks up our sleeve – our game plan will be more or less the same that we have become accustomed to over the years, but our goal will be to improve in the execution of that plan.
“Our defence will also be a focus area come Friday and we should refrain from making any stupid mistakes.”
Vodacom Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier , 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Danie Rossouw, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Reserves: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Pedrie Wannenburg, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Burton Francis, 22 John Mametsa.