The conflicting reports about whether Duane Vermeulen would be selected for the Bulls in their last two matches in Australasia have been resolved.
Bulls coach Pote Human, who wanted to rest Vermeulen for two matches in accordance with the SA Rugby agreement with contracted Springboks and their franchises, have stuck to this undertaking. The Bulls will therefore have their two top leaders and players unavailable for Friday’s match against the Blues at Eden Park with Handré Pollard who returned home with a calf injury last week.
Pote Human named two Springboks, scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl and flanker Marco van Staden, in his starting team for the match. Van Zyl takes over from André Warner and Van Staden comes in at flank for Paul Schoeman, who moves to No 8 in place of Duane Vermeulen, who has returned to South Africa.
Human insists the Bulls need to start well against the home side, who have won 11 of their 12 home games against the Bulls.
“We need to get a good start and sustain that throughout the match. They have some quality players, but the real test will be in the set-pieces. The Blues have the best scrum success rate (97%) in the competition, so that will be a critical area for us.”
With Pollard and Vermeulen out, centre Burger Odendaal will take over the captaincy, a job he has done in the past.
The midfielder said they have clear objectives in this match.
“We are the underdogs, no doubt about that. That is good for us, as we can only concentrate on our own game and that we want to achieve. This will have to be very clinical performance from us. If not, it will be a long evening.”
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 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 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 André Warner, 22 JT Jackson, 23 Divan Rossouw.