Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais named an unchanged pack to play the Rebels on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in the first home game for the team in the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament, but an injury to Jesse Kriel will see Burger Odendaal start in the midfield. Odendaal will start at inside centre and Jan Serfontein at outside centre.
This enforced change will also see Dries Swanepoel moves onto the bench as a replacement for Odendaal and could run on in his first match at this level.
The home side suffered their first defeat of the competition at DHL Newlands last weekend, but Marais is more than happy to give the same squad a second bite at the cherry.
“I said last week that I back our squad and although we let ourselves and our supporters down last weekend, I am confident that we can turn things around. We performed poorly in some areas of our game and paid the price. I am confident that we can turn that around and deliver a much better result in our first home match of the season,” Marais said.
“We are under pressure to deliver on the expectations from our loyal fans and the Rebels will certainly not make it any easier for us. They showed against the Force last weekend that they can win tough matches away from home and play for 80 minutes. They edged us last year, so will travel here with a lot of confidence. In fact, I think they are the favourites for this.”
The coach was adamant that his troops will be better this week.
“We know we can do much better. We worked hard this week and those small niggles were sorted out. We will need better possession and it is an area we will focus on.”
The Vodacom Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, was pretty pleased that lock Grant Hattingh will play in his 50th match in Super Rugby.
“Grant really played well last weekend. He has been a real stalwart for the team in the last couple of seasons and I am pretty pleased that he can achieve his 50 match milestone in front of his home crowd at Loftus. That said, a real team effort will be needed to beat the Rebels. They are a very difficult team to play against as they play intelligent rugby and vary their game well. It is difficult to pin them down.”
The team (with Super Rugby caps) is: Warrick Gelant (1), Travis Ismaiel (7), Jan Serfontein (37), Burger Odendaal (11), Bjorn Basson (87), Francois Brummer (6), Rudy Paige (22), Arno Botha (34), Jannes Kirsten (1), Nic de Jager (1), Grant Hattingh (49), RG Snyman (1), Marcel van der Merwe (34), Adriaan Strauss (119, c), Trevor Nyakane (59). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (4), Lizo Gqoboka (1), Hencus van Wyk (2), Jason Jenkins (1), Roelof Smit (4), Piet van Zyl (55), Tian Schoeman (8), Dries Swanepoel (0).
•Grant Hattingh will play in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match. He made his debut for the Emirates Lions in 2012 and played in 9 matches for the team.