The Blue Bulls already struggling in the Currie Cup competition where they have won only one from four matches in an acceptable run of poor rugby, are struck by injuries as they face the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday in a must-win match to try and stave off a promotion/relegation situation.
Ivan van Zyl will lead the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park, while UP-Tuks flanker, Fred Eksteen, will make his Blue Bulls and Currie Cup debut.
Van Zyl will make a first start in the competition after playing off the bench twice so far and takes over the captaincy from injured Ruan Steenkamp, whose co-flanker Marco van Staden is likewise not available because of concussion.
Wian Vosloo moves into the starting team as well to replace injured Springbok Van Staden.
Eksteen played his club rugby for UP Tuks before being named in the Blue Bulls Currie Cup wider squad and takes over from Steenkamp at the side of the scrum. The flanker will run out along with Dayan van der Westhuizen and Johan Grobbelaar, who were both elevated into the starting team for Saturday's clash against the undefeated home side.
Van der Westhuizen replaces injured prop Simphiwe Matanzima, while hooker Grobbelaar swops places with Jaco Visagie, who reverts to the bench.
In a fifth change to the pack, Andries Ferreira will start at lock, with Adré Smith moving back to the bench after being named a late starter against Griquas when Ferreira was ruled out before kick-off.
Coach Pote Human left the backline intact, bar the Van Zyl swop with Embrose Papier, who will play off the bench.
Madot Makobela is the only newcomer on the bench, taking the place of Van der Westhuizen.
♦ Human said although his hand was forced, it should not dampen the enthusiasm to face their Gauteng neighbours.
"The injury bogey did hit us hard and that on a weekend where one would have wanted to play with all your main players fit and ready. That said, the likes of Fred worked hard all season and now gets the chance to show what he can do. I would not have included him in our training squad in the first place if I did not trust his abilities," Human said.
"We are now playing for pride and each player will have to show why they want to be part of this team in future."
♦ Van Zyl said the challenge is a huge one, but the team want to prove they belong.
"There are many if and buts when you look at our season, but ultimately the performances did not do justice to the effort of the coaching staff and the hopes of our supporters. We have two more rounds to redeem ourselves and everyone is determined to do just that and finish the season with some dignity and pride restored."
Blue Bulls –
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (captain), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Fred Eksteen, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Madot Mabokela, Conraad van Vuuren, Adré Smith, Jean Droste, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Stedman Gans.