Both the Vodacom Bulls as well as the Brumbies have announced their teams and squads for the Super Rugby semi-final clash at Loftus Versfeld at 17:05 SA Time on Saturday. Both team sheets were dispatched to the media via Bulls media releases.
Here are the gladiators who will do business on the weekend:
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke included fit-again Jan Serfontein and Francois Hougaard in his starting team and former Junior Springbok lock Paul Willemse on the bench for his side’s Vodacom Super Rugby semifinal match against the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
All three players recovered from the injuries that kept them out of the last league fixture against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town two weeks ago.
Serfontein replaces Francois Venter in the midfield and Hougaard’s inclusion comes at the expense of Jano Vermaak, who will move to the bench, where he replaces Rudy Paige.
Willemse replaces Jacques du Plessis, who made his debut in Cape Town.
“We have worked hard to put ourselves in a position where we could host a semifinal at home and achieved that. We cannot allow all that effort to go to waste on Saturday,” Ludeke said.
“We certainly respect the Brumbies as an opponent, but this match will be about us and our ability and drive to make them play the game at our tempo and to our game plan. For that we will need to be accurate and execute the big plays well,” the coach said.
Vodacom Bulls captain, Dewald Potgieter, encouraged the home supporters to help them over the line.
“We have great fans and we love doing well in front of them. It is going to be a game of margins on Saturday and if we have our support base behind us, we will be able to edge ahead. We have to play the right type of rugby at the right times in the match and I am confident of that. We have experience in play-offs and we have big game players, so we will be ready,” Potgieter said.
Vodacom Bulls (with Super Rugby caps): 15 Zane Kirchner (81), 14 Akona Ndungane (95), 13 JJ Engelbrecht (32), 12 Jan Serfontein (11), 11 Bjorn Basson (54), 10 Morné Steyn (122), 9 Francois Hougaard (55), 8 Dewald Potgieter (66, Captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter (22), 6 Deon Stegmann (74), 5 Grant Hattingh (20), 4 Flip van der Merwe (62), 3 Werner Kruger (91), 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (68), 1 Dean Greyling (37).
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie (22), 17 Frik Kirsten (30), 18 Morné Mellett (11), 19 Paul Willemse (5), 20 Jono Ross (3), 21 Jano Vermaak (103), 22 Jürgen Visser (11).
- Morné Steyn will extend his Vodacom Bulls franchise record for most appearances (122) and could also improve on his scoring records for most points (1431), penalties (269), conversions (242) and dropped goals (25).
- Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane and Werner Kruger will also improve on their appearances records at fullback, wing and prop respectively.
- Kirchner, Ndungane, Steyn, Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Stegmann, Van der Merwe, Kruger and Ralepelle have all played in semifinals before.
The University of Canberra Brumbies have named an unchanged side to take on the Bulls this weekend at Loftus Versfeld as the ACT-based club fights for a spot in the Super Rugby Grand Final.
The Bulls have been one of the toughest road trips in the 2013 competition and are yet to drop a game at Loftus this year.
But none of that will matter to the Brumbies during the early hours of Sunday morning (AEST). It’s been nine years since the club last tasted finals rugby and Head Coach Jake White said his team would be taking its opportunity.
“The Bulls present us with a huge challenge this weekend. We know they will play through their forwards and use Morne [Steyn] to finish with points,” White said.
“They have a good record here at Loftus and for our players to experience running on in front of a full house of more than 50,000 people will be fantastic.
“They are a typical South African side, very big and physical with some quality finishers out wide so it’s up to our players to combat that with our own game.”
Sunday’s clash with the Bulls is the second time the University of Canberra Brumbies have faced off against the Pretorians this season. In round seven the Brumbies narrowly avoided a draw when they were awarded a penalty after the siren, eventually winning 23-20.
Last time the Brumbies played at Loftus was in April 2012 when despite outscoring the Bulls five tries to two, the Brumbies still went down 36-34. Steyn booted 23 points that night – including seven penalties – leaving the Brumbies under no illusion as to how important infringements will be in this upcoming fixture.
Along with the University of Canberra Brumbies who have a record of winning seven from eight finals matches at home since 1997, the Bulls have emerged as another side difficult to move during post-season rugby and are undefeated at home with five from five.
Should the Crusaders be able to knock over the Chiefs on Saturday night, the winner of the Brumbies v Bulls encounter will host the Grand Final next Saturday night.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14. Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (Captain), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.