The Bulls make no secret of the fact that they are missing key players for a difficult trip to Newlands, where they face the Stormers in their Super Rugby opener on Saturday.
They are indeed without men of the calibre of Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein, Arno Botha and Roelof Smit.
But the Pretoria-based franchise isn’t using it as an excuse.
“We are without proven players but that is the nature of this competition. Fact is, we have some serious talent in this group and we owe it to ourselves and our supporters to do justice to that,” said head coach Nollis Marais.
Indeed, it’s never a bad thing to have a Springbok lock in Lood de Jager to make his debut for the franchise.
He headlines a starting line-up that also sees the return of captain and flyhalf Handre Pollard.
The gifted pivot is aware of the challenge awaiting them at a venue that hasn’t been good to them.
“Look, this is one of the classic matches on the calendar and we look forward to this challenge. The Stormers are a class team and playing them at home is probably the toughest start of all in the competition,” said Pollard.
“That said, we have the belief in the squad and the confidence that we can do well this year. We now need to go out there and show our worth.”
Bulls: Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, Travis Ismaiel, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jacques Potgieter, Nic de Jager, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Bench: Edgar Marutlulle, Jacobie Adriaanse, Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Ruan Steenkamp, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Warrick Gelant.