Jacques-Louis Potgieter will earn a first Vodacom Bulls start at flyhalf since 15 May 2010 when the home side host the Lions in their first home match of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The 29-year old pivot is one of four changes made to the starting side that came up short in Bloemfontein last weekend, with Grant Hattingh (as no 8), Victor Matfield (at no 5) and Frik Kirsten (as starting tighthead) the others to earn a start on the weekend.
Potgieter replaces Louis Fouché, who drops out of the match 23 altogether, Hattingh moves from lock to the back of the scrum in place of Jacques Engelbrecht and Kirsten swop places with Werner Kruger, with the latter on the bench for this match. Engelbrecht moves to the bench, whilst Matfield takes over from Hattingh at lock. His place on the bench will be taken by Paul Willemse, with Wiaan Liebenberg missing out.
The versatile Potgieter last played for the Vodacom Bulls as a replacement centre in the final of the 2010 showpiece, when the home side beat the DHL Stormers in Soweto for back-to-back Super Rugby titles.
Hattingh, who has played as a flanker for the Bulls and the Lions in Super Rugby before, will start at No 8 for the first time.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes the change in personnel will invigorate his side, who lacked composure in finishing off chances this far.
“It is still early in the competition, but we have to be honest with ourselves. We cannot afford a repeat of the first two weekends, where we were lethargic and inaccurate in our set plays. The Lions are high on confidence, so we need not only to start well, but play with belief and commitment.”
Ludeke backed his team selections.
“Jacques-Louis has 42 Super Rugby caps under his belt and need to show that for us, while we expect Victor to bring composure and calm to our set piece. I am excited to see Grant at No 8, he is a true footballer and read the play very well.”
Flip van der Merwe, who took over the captaincy from Pierre Spies last week, will again lead the team into battle.
“We are way down on the standards we set for ourselves this season,” Van der Merwe said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“This will be our first home game of the season and we are pleased about it after two difficult weekends in Durban and Bloemfontein. We are facing a rampant Lions team though who are playing with passion, skill and precision. We need to match them in those areas if we want to record our first win of the tournament.”
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (Captain), 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
Date: Saturday 1 March
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)
- Victor Matfield will extend his record of the most capped South African in Super Rugby to 127 matches. He is still behind Mornè Steyn (123) as most capped Vodacom Bulls player though, having earned 8 of his caps as a Cats player in his debut year.
- Francois Hougaard is one try short from 100 Vodacom Super Rugby points.
- Coach Frans Ludeke (118 matches) will extend his record as the most experienced South African coach in Super Rugby. He is also the most experienced of all 15 coaches in the competition.