Super Rugby: Bulls v Lions match preview
Last Updated: 27/02/14 3:26pm
The Bulls have made changes to their starting line-up to face the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday as they look to post their first win of this campaign.
The three times Super Rugby champions have made a dismal start to the season, losing to fellow South African rivals the Sharks and the Cheetahs.
Veteran lock Victor Matfield is among the changes to the starting side for the clash, which is live on Sky Sports 4HD at 3.05pm, with Jacques-Louis Potgieter (fly-half) and Frik Kirsten (tighthead prop) also coming into the side.
Matfield, 36, takes over from Grant Hattingh in the second-row. Hattingh moves from lock to the back of the scrum in place of Jacques Engelbrecht and Kirsten swaps places with Werner Kruger, with the latter on the bench for this match. Potgieter replaces Louis Fouche, who drops out of the 23 altogether.
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," he said.
"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."
In a further blow, Bulls captain Pierre Spies has been ruled out for the rest of the season after a recurrence of a bicep injury.
Spies will have surgery this week on the problem that sidelined the No. 8 for six months last year.
This blow comes after a knee injury sidelined Springboks flanker Arno Botha for the season, leaving coach Ludeke cursing his bad luck.
"Pierre and Arno were an important part of our game plan and contributed tremendously when it came to leadership," he said.
Flip van der Merwe, who took over the captaincy from Spies last week, will again lead the team into battle.
For the Lions, head coach Johan Ackermann has made two enforced changes to his starting line-up.
The changes see Warwick Tecklenburg start in the place of the injured Derick Minnie and JW Jonker come into the side after Alwyn Hollenbach was unable to pass a fitness test on Thursday. As a result of this change, Stefan Watermeyer shifts back to inside centre, with Jonker partnering him.
Meanwhile, on the bench, Willie Britz will provide loose-forward cover, having recovered from his hip flexor injury. Utility back Courtnall Skosan also comes in and could make his Super Rugby debut.
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 (c), 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.
Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Courtnall Skosan, 23 Coenie van Wyk.