SUPER RUGBY Preview : Bulls vs Stormers

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Bulls coach Nollis Marais made four changes to his starting team to face the Stormers in Pretoria on Saturday.

Marais named Travis Ismaiel (wing), Francois Brummer (fly-half), Piet van Zyl (scrum-half) and Arno Botha in the team, with Grant Hattingh fit again and included on the bench.

Hattingh last played for the team in the Super Rugby competition in April, but has recovered from the injury that kept him on the sidelines.

Ismaiel and Botha did not play against the Waratahs last weekend in Sydney and replaces Bjorn Basson and Hanro Liebenberg respectively.

Brummer and Van Zyl started on the bench in Sydney and swop places with Tian Schoeman and Rudy Paige.

“It is good to be back at Loftus Versfeld again,” Marais said.

“We had mixed fortunes in Australia and unfortunately dropped our standards in the last two matches. We have no option but to get back on the horse immediately, as the Stormers are playing some great rugby.

“We need to beat them to move past them on the log as well. So we have a lot to play for and a lot to prove.”

Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, predicts an arm wrestle and typical local derby.

“We always have massive clashes with the Stormers,” he said.

“It is one of those matches everybody want to play and to be part of. This team have a great opportunity to deliver a proper performances in front of our fans against a formidable foe. We will be ready.”

Damian de Allende will earn his 50th Super Rugby cap for the Stormers in the clash with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld this weekend.

The 24-year-old centre made his debut for the Stormers in 2013, and has since established himself as a key player, winning the 2015 SA Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year award.

De Allende will link up with Johnny Kotze in midfield with co-captain Juan de Jongh sidelined due to a hamstring strain, while Leolin Zas returns from suspension to take Kotze’s place on the wing.

The only other change to the backline which started against the Suunwolves in Singapore sees scrumhalf Nic Groom swop places with Louis Schreuder who starts on the replacements bench.

In the loose trio Schalk Burger will start at number eight, with Nizaam Carr shifting to flank and Rynhardt Elstadt moving to the replacements bench.

Eben Etzebeth makes his return from injury to partner Pieter-Steph du Toit at lock, while there are two changes in the front row with Oli Kebble starting at loosehead prop in place of the injured JC Janse van Rensburg and Bongi Mbonambi getting an opportunity to start at hooker with Scarra Ntubeni set to make an impact from the replacements bench.

Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is determined to get back to winning ways after disappointing results in the last two weeks.

“The players know that we have to make a big step up in terms of our performance, and we have worked incredibly hard this week to ensure that we are at our best against a competitive Vodacom Bulls side,” he said.

The Teams:

Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones

Date: Saturday, May 21
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19:20 local (17:20 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson, AJ Jacobs
TMO: Johan Greeff


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