Springboks, Schalk Brits and Jason Jenkins, are back in the Vodacom Bulls pack for their Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
Brits has served a four week suspension and will start at hooker, while Jenkins is fit again following injury. Like Brits, he last played for the Vodacom Bulls in their 19-16 win over the Cell C Sharks at the end of March.
They replace Jaco Visagie and Jannes Kirsten respectively, with Visagie dropping to the bench and Kirsten moving into the number 7 jersey in place of injured Hanro Liebenberg.
The duo’s return resulted in Vodacom Bulls Head Coach, Pote Human, making two changes in the pack, as well as two in the backline.
In a rotational change Ivan van Zyl drops out of the match 23 and will be replaced by André Warner at scrumhalf in the starting team, while Warner’s place on the bench is taken by Embrose Papier.
Burger Odendaal, who was a late withdrawal from last weekend’s clash against the Waratahs, has been declared fit and he will start at centre in place of Dylan Sage, who drops out of the match day squad altogether.
Odendaal and Kotze will man the midfield against the New Zealand outfit.
Human welcomed the return of his two Springboks in the pack.
“Schalk has been itching to play for the last couple of weeks and he will be very keen. Jason also recovered well and looked very sharp in training. Both are players of international standard, so it is great to have them back. Our pack will need to step up to the plate if we want to contain the Crusaders and these two are certainly capable of adding to that.”
Vodacom Bulls captain, Handré Pollard, said they are determined to end this phase of the tournament on a strong footing.
“We travel overseas after this and will only be back at Loftus next month, so this is a very important match for us. We need to do well here in order to maintain our log position and to get some momentum for the tour. Everyone realises what is at stake,” he said.
The squad (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is:
15. Warrick Gelant (41, 70)
14. Cornal Hendricks (34, 55)
13. Johnny Kotze (40, 45)
12. Burger Odendaal (50, 20)
11. Rosko Specman (7, 20)
10. Handré Pollard (c; 55, 573)
9. André Warner (14, 15)
8. Duane Vermeulen (118, 50)
7. Jannes Kirsten (26, 10)
6. Marco van Staden (19, 15)
5. RG Snyman (42, 15)
4. Jason Jenkins (46, 35)
3. Trevor Nyakane (101, 15)
2. Schalk Brits (69, 20)
1. Lizo Gqoboka (47, 15)
16. Jaco Visagie (40, 5)
17. Simphiwe Matanzima (10, 5)
18. Wiehahn Herbst (43, 0)
19. Thembelani Bholi (36, 6)
20. Paul Schoeman (28, 35)
21. Embrose Papier (19, 5)
22. Manie Libbok (12, 33),
23. Divan Rossouw (20, 15)