Waratahs v Bulls: Teams
At Sydney Football Stadium, Friday May 11, Kick-off 10.40 BST
Last Updated: 10/05/12 10:22am
Rocky Elsom: First Super Rugby start of 2012
Rocky Elsom will lead the Waratahs in Friday's must-win Super Rugby encounter with the Bulls at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.
His return to the starting line-up is one of seven personnel and three positional changes to the run-on side that was beaten 23-6 by the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend.
The Bulls clash will be the team's third match in 13 days and, mindful of the demanding trip to South Africa that lies immediately ahead, coach Michael Foley has made a handful of changes.
Dean Mumm returns to the second row after being rotated last week against the Brumbies, whilst in-form flanker Dave Dennis takes a break after starting every match of the season to date.
The change opens the door for skipper Elsom to return to the starting XV, after averaging 15 minutes from the bench in the last three matches.
This week also sees the return of centre Rob Horne (following a two-week suspension) and injured flanker Chris Alcock.
"Clearly it's great to have Rob and Chris back in the team," said Foley. "Both were first-choice players before their enforced absences and return to the starting line-up for Friday's match."
Alcock takes over from Jono Jenkins whilst Horne will line up in the centre alongside Adam Ashley-Cooper, with Daniel Halangahu returning to the starting side to assume the number 15 jersey and Tom Kingston reverting to wing.
The match sees several other players get their opportunity to make a bigger impact in this game, after positive performances in recent weeks.
Amongst them is former Cheetahs scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, who starts in place of Brendan McKibbin.
"Pretorius has shown great form off the bench and has a good understanding of what's required against the Bulls," said Foley.
The match also represents a first start of the season for hooker John Ulugia, who comes in for Tatafu Polota-Nau.
With Damien Fitzpatrick out with a knee injury, Ulugia's elevation sees newcomer Josh Mann-Rea make his first appearance in a Waratahs' matchday 22 since 2003.
A former Australian Schoolboy, U19 and U21 and Junior Waratah, the 31-year-old Manly hooker has been training with the squad since April, having previously spent three years with Japanese club Kyden Voltex.
Changes for Bulls
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has been forced to make four changes to his line-up for Friday's Super Rugby clash with the Waratahs in Sydney.
Prop Dean Greyling, replacement prop Frik Kirsten, flanker Jacques Potgieter and midfielder Wynand Olivier - who all played in the 41-35 win over the Rebels last week - have all been ruled out.
Greyling flew back to South Africa as his wife gave birth on Monday and Kirsten (broken hand) and Potgieter (injured knee) returned to Pretoria after injuries ended their tour prematurely.
Olivier suffered injured ribs in Melbourne, but should be fit to play next week.
Dawie Steyn will replace Greyling in the front row, while Rayno Gerber will replace Kirsten on the bench after flying in from South Africa to join the squad Down Under.
With openside flanker Deon Stegmann fit again, Ludeke decided to move incumbent CJ Stander to the blindside where he will replace Potgieter - resulting in a new loose forward combination.
Olivier is replaced by Francois Venter and will team up with Johann Sadie, who swops jerseys with JJ Engelbrecht, the latter moving to the bench and Sadie into the number 13 jersey as part of Ludeke's rotational policy.
Venter and Sadie last started together in the Bulls' opening round win over the Sharks.
"We are lucky to have cover in those positions. Francois played very well for us earlier in the season, while Deon is very keen to start contributing again," said Ludeke.
"Dawie of course, played against the Brumbies three weeks ago and did very well, while Rayno brings massive experience with his inclusion.
"We need to keep up the momentum of our opening win on tour, but the Waratahs will make it very difficult for us, no doubt."
Waratahs: 15 Daniel Halangahu, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 11 Atieli Pakalani, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Rocky Elsom (c), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 John Mann-Rea, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Tom Carter.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 CJ Stander, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.