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Bulls make eight changes, choose young lock pair to tame Etsebeth and Co

The Sharks showed what they are capable of last week, after their struggling start in the URC and that's why Jake White expects a hard, tough traditional South African derby when the Bulls and the men from Durban meet at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls welcome back into the fold World Cup champion Kurt-Lee Arendse as the creative backliner starts his United Rugby Championship campaign against the Sharks on Saturday.

The seventh-round fixture is set for an 5:00 kick-off at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

Arendse is one of eight changes made to this weekend’s matchday 23 as he slots into the right wing with national teammate Canan Moodie on the left around David Kriel and Stedman Gans at centre. Willie le Roux – at fullback – completes an agile and dynamic backline that will be linked to the power pack ahead by the half-back duo of Embrose Papier and Johan Goosen.

The services of the front-row trio of Gerhard Steenekamp, Akker van der Merwe and Wilco Louw have been retained with Janko Swanepoel and Reinhardt Ludwig combining at lock behind them. Marco van Staden starts at blindside with Elrigh Louw on the openside, supported by Cameron Hanekom at eight. Louw will lead the side in the absence of both Marcell Coetzee and Ruan Nortje.

The herd will have the opportunity to call upon front rowers Simphiwe Matanzima, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Mornay Smith, Nizaam Carr and debutant, Deon Slabbert who will feature for the Pretoria outfit for the first time should he get a run.

The 23-year-old Slabbert, a product of Westville Boys High School in Durban, will certainly want to take this opportunity to send the Sharks a message after they were not interested in him as a junior, although he was a star in their provincial school teams. He had to fight his way through SWD and the Pumas to get an opportunity with the Bulls.

Backline trio, Zak Burger, Jaco van der Walt and Sebastian de Klerk will also be on standby as they complete the eight-man impact squad.

Director of Rugby Jake White said the game will be a great derby for South African fans who will get to see the majority of the available players who were victorious in France.

“We are going to have four World Cup winners running out for us and they are using their available World Cup winners as well. For the first time, the crowd will get the chance to see World Cup winners on the field and I am hoping that will be a great boost for the fans,” White remarked.

BULLS vs SHARKS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Janko Swanepoel, 5. Reinhardt Ludwig, 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Elrigh Louw (c), 8. Cameron Hanekom, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Canan Moodie, 12. David Kriel, 13. Stedman Gans, 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 15. Willie le Roux

BULLS REPLACEMENTS: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Deon Slabbert, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Sebastian de Klerk.


The Sharks team for the duel is:

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Phepsi Buthelezi, 6 James Venter, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Corne Rahl, 20 Jeandre Labuschagne, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.


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