Pollard back in much-changed Bulls backline

Pollard back in much-changed Bulls backline

Bulls coach Pote Human named Handré Pollard at flyhalf and captain for Friday's Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

The pivot missed the last two matches on tour due to injury and returned to South Africa. However, he has now been declared fit after a strained calf, flew back to New Zealand and returns in a much-changed backline from the one that drew against the Blues a week ago.

Divan Rossouw (for Warrick Gelant) and Dylan Sage (for Rosko Specman), both injury-enforced changes, will join Pollard (replacing Manie Libbok who is on the bench) in the starting line-up. Sage will move to outside centre, while Johnny Kotze moves one out in place of the injured Specman.

Human also recalled Embrose Papier to partner Pollard at halfback, with Ivan van Zyl moving to the bench and Andre Warner missing out.

The loose trio that finished the game against the Blues will start against the Highlanders.

Marco van Staden will play at no 8 in place of injured Paul Schoeman, with Hanro Liebenberg and Ruan Steenkamp on the side of the scrum. The tight five remains intact.

Johan Grobbelaar comes onto the bench as a loose forward.

Human said the tour provided some good results but can only be seen a successful one if they get the desired outcome against the Highlanders.

"This is going to be very tough for us, but this group thrives on challenges. I think the Highlanders last lost to a team from outside New Zealand in 2016, so we need to be at our very best if we want to change that statistic."

Pollard said he is keen to get back onto the field.

"The short break was great and I am happy to be back. This is a great venue to play at and we are determined to make our visit a productive one. We last won here in 2007, so it is about time we change that."

Highlanders pick Liam Squire

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has selected an experienced pack and will welcome the return of All Black loose forward Liam Squire for his first match of the season.

Also back from injury are lock Jackson Hemopo and wing Tevita Li, while Josh McKay will get his first start of the year at fullback and prop Sef Fa'agase comes onto the bench for the injured Daniel Lienert-Brown.

It's a big night for No 8 Luke Whitelock who will captain the side in his 100 Super Rugby game and will also bring up 50 games for the Highlanders. 
Teams –

15 Divan Rossouw , 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Johan Grobbelaar, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 JT Jackson.

15 Josh McKay, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone. Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joshua Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen.