Back from a finger injury, and keen to get his Bok No 8 jersey back, Pierre Spies will captain the Bulls against the Cheetahs on Saturday.
Coach Frans Ludeke has made plenty of changes to the side that beat the Lions in Orlando last weekend. Only fullback Jürgen Visser remains in the starting XV. It’s an experienced side, though, with only Jurgen Visser and Mornè Mellett without Super Rugby experience.
Just back from a stint in Japan, Wynand Olivier will play from the bench.
“We are all keen to go out there and play. The start of the season is always eagerly awaited, as everyone is keen to see how much improvement came from the hard work put in during the off-season. A couple of us have not played in a while either, so there is a lot of anticipation and energy out there,” said skipper Spies.
Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Mornè Mellett
Bench: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Ulrich Beyers, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Wynand Olivier
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain) 1 Trevor Nyakane
Bench: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Ligtoring Landman, 19 Juan Smith, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Hennie Daniller, 23 Hansie Graaff