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BullsGrant HattinghJacques-Louis PotgieterThe Vodacom Bulls are set to make radical changes to their team to face the Lions this weekend in order to get themselves onto the winning path in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby series.

While Flip van der Merwe is set to captain the side once again, the team named on Wednesday will in all likelihood see Victor Matfield and Jacques-Louis Potgieter in the starting line-up and a bold move for regular lock Grant Hattingh to No 8.

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The Bulls are set to make the changes after losing their opening two matches. They feel the changes will be the correct ones to ensure the team gets go-forward ball and executes better.

Hattingh’s possible move in particular is an interesting one, with the lock last having played No 8 back in his Varsity Cup days when he was at Maties. He never played at No 8 at the Lions during his time there, but did play flank on occasion.

The move will see the Bulls getting an extra lineout option at the back, while the mobility of Hattingh will hopefully let the loose trio gel better.

Matfield’s return to the starting team is also interesting, and is partly because Pierre Spies is not there, and partly because the Bulls want to secure good first-phase ball as they desperately need a victory against the Lions.

It is also hoped that concerns over the captaincy will be sorted out in this game.

It was noticeable in the Cheetahs game that Flip van der Merwe at one point wanted to go for the sideline with a penalty kick, only to have Matfield point to the posts. The Bulls took the penalty kick at goal but it was unclear who was captaining the side at the time.

While it was expected that Handre Pollard would shift into the starting role at flyhalf after Louis Fouche’s two disappointing outings, Jacques-Louis Potgieter is set to take the spot with Pollard on the bench.

Fouche will drop out of the 22 altogether but there will be no other changes to the backline, despite failing to fire in the last two outings.

Potgieter scored 20 points in the curtain-raiser on Friday against the Free State Cheetahs’ Vodacom Cup side in a pre-season friendly and his experience, along with his big boot, are seen as the reasons why the Bulls have gone for him above the talented Pollard.

Pollard, however, has made a significant impact in both games off the bench and the Bulls feel he can be better utilised in this position.

Frik Kirsten should move into the tighthead position in the only change in the front row.

The Bulls were given further good news when it was learnt that Deon Stegmann does not have to undergo surgery for his groin injury which has stopped him from playing in this year’s Super Rugby competition.

Stegmann will continue his rehab and, if all goes well, should be ready for the Bulls’ game against the Blues at Loftus Versfeld next weekend.

17 Responses to Super Rugby: Bulls set to shake things up a bit

  • 1

    I like the 2 additions… Jacques-Louis Potgieter at No 10 & Grant Hattingh at No 8… but as long as Callie Visagie, Jono Ross & Jurgen Visser starts, it will be a long day at Loftus.

    I should hasten to add that Bulls need to play more possession rugby too and not instruct Hougie to kick every ball and the balls he does not kick is kicked away by the flyhalf… and if he does not kick, that Jurgen Visser kicks the freegin ball somewhere moer and gone.

  • 2

    positive changes, I thought hattingh has a pretty good game under the circumstances. vleis had a very quiet game and is probably best suited as an impact player.

    Fouche does not deserve to be there and puts way too much pressure on everyone. JL potgieter wont be spectacular, but all we need is for him to kick his goals and kick out or the lions will pin us in our 22 all day.

    Also i assume this brings Paul on the bench which is good. Not perfect and I think the lions will take too much momentum into this game so it will be tough for us as things are far from “ok”, but there is no stubbornness from the coaching staff and an effort is being made, and it makes me more positive. GO BULLS.

  • 3

    Maybe Jesse Kriel on the bench for impact in Visser’s place second half?

  • 4

    According Beeld, Blue Bulls are in negotiation with Dewald Potgieter to bring him back into the kraal. Also possibly with Juan Smith (his contract in France ends June 2014).

  • 5

    Blue Traveller, is Jesse fit again?

  • 6

    @ Rower:
    Last I heard, he was going to be ready this week.

  • 7

    Good news about Stegman. Was a bit worried there. @ Rower: That is excellent news. Any chance any one or even both of them would sign, can only be good.

  • 8

    Rower wrote:

    According Beeld, Blue Bulls are in negotiation with Dewald Potgieter to bring him back into the kraal. Also possibly with Juan Smith (his contract in France ends June 2014).

    Doesn’t make sense in financial terms. They overpaid when contacting so many juniors, to such an extent that they wanted some seniors like Vermaak to take huge pay cuts, yet now they can compete with the richest club in France to buy Juan?
    Given the choice, I would rather have gone for Bakkies or Danie Rossouw

  • 9

    @ nortierd:
    I would not mind if Juan Smith joined, but I agree it makes no sense at all, maybe Heyneke is trying to get a local team to sign Juan? If Juan had any aspirations to play in South Africa he would have stayed with the Cheetahs, unless there had been a massive fall out no one is aware of… he went to Toulon quite suddenly and was fit to play very quick, I found it odd.

    I am sure the Bulls must have a lot of loose change hanging around to pay for experienced players, even if we would like bakkies and danie, bakkies is out for a few months still and danie is on the verge of retirement apparently due to arthritis.

  • 10

    @ MB
    It came as a shock when we heard that Juan signed in France.
    If HM wants to bring him in, I don’t think he will mind if he plays in France.
    Both Flo and Bakkies will stay in Europe, and so will Habs and Morne.
    The Japanese players are usually the problem, but mostly because of the way their contracts are set up to exclude tests.
    I do think that HM pretty much knows who about 90% of his squad for next year’s WC is already, it’s up to guys like Boshoff and other youngsters and fringe players to see if they can play so well for the next year and a half to maybe force themselves into the extended squad

  • 11

    @ nortierd:
    I think it is all about managing Juans workload, it will be done better locally than in Europe because he is more injury prone than those other players.

    It was a big shock when Juan retired, but it was just as shocking how quick he came back and started playing again, and he has played quite a few games now, it is a MIRACLE recovery.

    If Juan is called up for the Boks, which is quite possible, it could be one of the greatest comebacks in rugby.

  • 12

    @ MacroBull: He was offered a contract by the Cheetahs, but obviously the Toulon offer was better. The Cheetahs were in constant communication with Juan

  • 13

    @ MacroBull: After retiring, a doctor came to him with a new operation that was almost sure to fix his troublesome Achilles. He actually trained with the Cheetah squad pre-season

  • 14

    @ Cheetah4eva:
    Pre 2014 season?

    Well that is good then, He is a Cheetah at heart, would be wrong seeing him playing in another province in South Africa than the free state if he ever comes back.

    Well for any other team but mine :D

  • 15

    With Hatting at 8 it will allow the Bulls to select 2 loose forwards on the bench. Both Hatting and du Plessis can cover lock.

  • 16

    Blue Bulls team for Saturday (as per Blue Bulls webpage):
    Jurgen Visser), Akona Ndungane , JJ Engelbrecht , Jan Serfontein , Bjorn Basson , Jacques-Louis Potgieter , Francois Hougaard , Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis , Jono Ross , Victor Matfield , Flip van der Merwe (k), Frik Kirsten , Callie Visagie , Dean Greyling . Plaasvervangers: Bongi Mbonambi , Werner Kruger , Marcel van der Merwe , Paul Willemse , Jacques Engelbrecht , Piet van Zyl , Handré Pollard , Ulrich Beyers .

  • 17

    not ideal. but its worth trying these combinations.

    but still I wonder what the love with ulrich beyers is all about?


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