The Blue Bulls welcomed back four of their Springboks for their Absa Currie Cup match against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday despite the instruction from SARU that Bakkies Botha cannot be selected for the clash.
With the contracted Springboks – of which Botha is one – withdrawn from all rugby until October 6 to undergo conditioning, the Blue Bulls were pleased to welcome back Springbok scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and lock Flip van der Merwe.
Their fourth returning Springbok is captain Gary Botha, who will start off the bench.
Coach Frans Ludeke, whilst lamenting that fact that Bakkies Botha is not available despite playing only five matches this year, says it will stand the big lock in good stead in the long run and could prolong his active rugby playing days.
Ludeke has selected a five-two bench with Gary Botha, Rossouw de Klerk and Jaco Engels a formidable trio to replace the startinb front-row against the tough Free State scrum.
Blue Bulls: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Jaco Pretorius, 12. Stefan Watermeyer, 11. Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 10. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7. CJ Stander, 6. Derick Kuün (c), 5. Juandré Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16. Gary Botha, 17. Rossouw de Klerk, 18. Jaco Engels, 19. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20. Okkie Kruger, 21. Dustin Jinka, 22. Stephan Dippenaar
Free State Cheetahs: 15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Philip Snyman, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Jongi Nokwe, 10. Louis Strydom, 9. Tewis de Bruyn, 8. Ashley Johnson, 7. Christoffel Philippus Van der Walt, 6. Hendro Scholtz, 5. Waltie Vermeulen, 4. Francois Uys, 3. Kobus Calldo, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16. Skipper Badenhorst, 17. Willem Petrus (WP) Nel, 18. Izak van der Westhuizen, 19. Kabamba Floors, 20. Tertius Carse, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Corné Uys