Former Springbok Morne Steyne has been dropped from Jake White’s Vodacom Bulls squad as the team chase silverware in the conclusion of the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked season. Chris Smith will earn his first start at flyhalf when the Bulls host the Phakisa Pumas in their final Super Rugby Unlocked match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
This match marks the first meeting between the teams at Super Rugby Unlocked level with the Bulls determined to maintain their winning streak as they secured victories in their previous three matches including a come from behind win against the Emirates Lions a fortnight ago.
The Vodacom Bulls have been impressive on attack as the team has registered 17 tries while only conceding seven. Equally impressive is their defence as they have only conceded 3.4 clean breaks 14.4 defenders beaten thus far, according to Opta Stats.
The club said: “The inclusion of Smith means the incumbent Morné Steyn gets a well-deserved break with Clinton Swart providing cover off the bench. The rest of the backline remains unchanged.”
Amongst the forwards, Springbok flank Arno Botha will wear the seven jumper with Elrigh Louw dropping out of the match day squad.
Corniel Els starts at hooker with Joe van Zyl on the bench in a direct swap as incumbent Johan Grobbelaar still nursing an injury.
“Due to the Covid pandemic effecting proceedings and the match between the DHL Stormers and Cell C Sharks being cancelled, we find ourselves in a more fortunate position than expected. Even though this is not an ideal situation for the tournament and the teams, we all understand that the safety and well-being of all involved comes first,” said Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White. “We as a team want to ensure that if we are to be named champions then we want to do it the right way, with a win against a good Pumas team,” he added.
Kick-off is 14:00 and will be televised live on the SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.
Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Arno Botha, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Walt Steenkamp, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Corniel Els, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16. Joe van Zyl, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Marcel van der Merwe, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Clinton Swart, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.
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