Vodacom Blue Bulls midfielder, Burger Odendaal, is back to full fitness and will lead the team when they take on the Xerox Golden Lions in a Currie Cup match at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 17h15.
Odendaal captained the team in his last appearance before injury in August and will team up with JT Jackson in the midfield for the first time in this campaign. He replaces Dries Swanepoel, who is out injured.
The team has also been boosted by the availability of Warrick Gelant at fullback, where he takes over from Manie Libbok, while Andre Warner will start at scrumhalf in the other change to the starting back-line.
Libbok, the hat-trick hero from the last match against Tafel Lager Griquas, Ivan van Zyl and Johnny Kotze will add impact off the bench. Executive of Rugby, John Mitchell, also made changes to his pack.
Jano Venter will start at no8 in his first run-on appearance since moving from Emirates Airline Park, with Nic de Jager moving to the openside to replace injured Shaun Adendorff.
Matthys Basson, who came off the bench against Griquas, will start at tighthead, with Dayan van der Westhuizen this time adding some punch off the bench, while Pierre Schoeman also starts at loosehead in place of Lizo Gqoboka.
Marco van Staden was also added to the bench for a first potential appearance this season.
Mitchell said the squad is still a work in progress. “We used the bye week to further work on the aspects we need to improve on and grow as a team,” Mitchell said. “There are a couple of fundamentals that we need to change and that will never be achieved overnight. I am pleased that we did make some good progress, but that will obviously be tested this weekend against an opponent that has found some rhythm and momentum in the last couple of matches.”
Odendaal was happy to be back. “We have suffered some injuries and that was not conducive to our momentum, but that is rugby for you. I am happy to be back and looking forward to give my best. The team prepared well, but it is taking baby steps at this stage. The important thing is for us to show some improvement and progress.”
The team is: Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Burger Odendaal (c), JT Jackson, Rabs Maxwane, Marnitz Boshoff, Andre Warner, Jano Venter, Jannes Kirsten, Nic De Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Matthys Basson, Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok, Johnny Kotze.