The Bulls have included their fit-again World Cup Springboks Bakkies Botha and Akona Ndungane in the team to play the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday in a repeat of last year’s Super 14 final.
Their inclusion was expected, pending their fitness, but coach Frans Ludeke made a surprise selection of Morne Steyn at flyhalf, while giving Springbok Derick Hougaard a rest.
Although Hougaard was far below par — together with a number of his teammates in last Friday night’s drubbing against the Crusaders — nothing sinister should be read in Steyn being preferred, according to Ludeke.
”MornÃ© gets game time because of our squad system and I am fully confident in his abilities. It is not the norm that one flyhalf plays all the games in the Super 14 and this is a good opportunity to give him a chance.”
John Mametsa is also being rested and Danwel Demas and Ndungane are the wings.
Demas, who came on when Marius Delport was injured last week retains his place with Delport out because of the groin injury.
Botha struggled with an ankle injury for more than two months, but he is now back to full fitness.
”Bakkies looks fresh and the match will determine how long he is going to be on the field”, said Ludeke. ”He is obviously not ready for the full 80 minutes, but it is wonderful to have him in the team. Apart from all his other attributes he is one of those players who can turn a game around.
”It’s also great to have another very experienced guy on the field.”
Ludeke also opted for experience in the loose trio with the return of Botha. Another World Cup Springbok, Danie Rossouw, moves from lock to flank where he joins World Cup colleague Wikus van Heerden.
This sees Deon Stegmann, one of the hardest workers in the Bulls pack, being relegated to the bench with another Springbok, Pedrie Wannenburg, preferred as the third member of the loose trio.
Bulls captain Fourie du Preez said the sooner the team can get back on the winning path the better, and he assured their supporters they are not panicking.
”We have been in this position before and we will take it game by game. There is a lot of character in the Bulls team and I am confident we can get back on track.” – Sapa
Zane Kirchner; Akona Ndungane, JP Nel, Wynand Olivier, Danwel Demas, MornÃ© Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Pedrie Wanneburg, Wikus van Heerden, Danie Rossouw, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Bakkies Botha, Rayno Gerber, Derick KuÃƒÂ¼n, GurthrÃƒÂ¶ Steenkamp. Reserves: James van der Walt, Werner Kruger, Jaco Engels, Deon Stegmann, Heini Adams, Derick Hougaard, John Mametsa.