Zane Kirchner is back at the Blue Bulls and will start his first Absa Currie Cup match of the season, when the defending champions take on Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
Kirchner has been released by the Springboks to play in the country’s premier provincial competition on the weekend and will replace Jaco van der Westhuyzen in one of seven chances from the side that defeated the Leopards last weekend.
Regular captain, Gary Botha, is back at the helm after the rake was rested last weekend and replaces Chiliboy Ralepelle, who is on Springbok duty, as is Flip van der Merwe, who will be replaced by Wilhelm Steenkamp at lock.
Stalwart John Mametsa also reclaims his left wing berth at the expense of Hayden Groepes.
Dean Greyling, who recovered from a neck strain, is back at loose head in place of Jaco Engels, while Werner Kruger, who was also rested against the Leopards, replaces Bees Roux.
Van der Westhuyzen, Engels and Roux have all been included on the bench in a decision by coach Frans Ludeke to go with a bench of five forwards and two backs. Groepes, Stephan Dippenaar and Francois Brummer drop out of the match 22 altogether, with Brummer getting a rare start in the u.21 side.
“This is the best team for us for this game,” Ludeke said.
“We expect the forward battle to be a fierce one, especially amongst the tight five. We therefore opted to pick two front rows in an effort to stay with the pace with fresh legs.”
Botha was confident that the changes will not impact on their momentum.
“We have a successful squad system going for a long time now, so it is no problem for any player coming back to slot in. It showed at practice already.”
The Vodacom Blue Bulls team to play Western Province at Newlands on Saturday is:
Zane Kirchner, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaco Pretorius, Stefan Watermeyer, John Mametsa, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Ruan Snyman, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Dewald Potgieter, Derick Kuün, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Juandré Kruger, Werner Kruger, Gary Botha (c), Dean Greyling.
Replacements: Bandise Maku, Bees Roux, Mthunzi Mabeta, CJ Stander, Dustin Jinka, Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Jaco Engels.