Johnny Kotze will start on the wing and Conraad van Vuuren at tighthead for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup match against the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
The inclusion of Kotze is a first start in light blue for the former DHL Western Province midfielder after coming off the bench twice earlier in the competition, with Van Vuuren, who last started against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit in August, is the other change in the run-on team from last weekend.
Executive of Rugby, John Mitchell, also opted for Ulrich Beyers on the bench, with the utility back due for a first appearance in this year’s competition.
“We are no doubt facing our biggest challenge of the season,” Mitchell said.
“The Cell C Sharks have been in awesome form this year and to have to travel down to Durban to face them is not making it any easier. That said, this group is all about challenges and how we confront and handle them, so we are looking forward to the clash.”
Mitchell was keen to see more improvement from the team.
“We are slowly starting to come to grips with a number of structural changes and for once, there is some continuity available in selection, something that was not possible earlier in the competition.”
The team will again be captained by Burger Odendaal.
“We are working hard to adapt to a number of things and there was a positive approach to the work put in this week, so we now need to go down to Durban and show the improvements,” Odendaal said.
Manie Libbok was also a late withdrawal from the squad due to an issue with his appendix. He has been replaced on the bench by Springbok Handre Pollard.
The team (with number of Currie Cup caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (21, 40), Duncan Matthews (4, 5), Burger Odendaal (c; 37, 30), JT Jackson (7, 2), Johnny Kotze (29, 30), Marnitz Boshoff (48, 419), Ivan van Zyl (14, 5), Jano Venter (4, 0), Jannes Kirsten (18, 10), Nic de Jager (15, 10), Aston Fortuin (2, 0), Ruben van Heerden (8, 15), Conraad van Vuuren (5, 0), Edgar Marutlulle (47, 35), Pierre Schoeman (19, 5). Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar (5, 10), Matthys Basson (5, 0), Tim Agaba (23, 15), Marco van Staden (1, 0), Piet van Zyl (48, 60), Handre Pollard, Ulrich Beyers (42, 40).
photo: Marcel Sigg