Jake White has named his Bulls team to kick-off the Super Rugby Unlocked campaign against Griquas on Saturday 10 October with skipper Duane Vermeulen rested.
Arno Botha will captain the Bulls in their first outing in front of an empty Loftus after Vermeulen picked up a knee injury in the Springbok Showdown over the weekend.
Bulls rest Vermeulen
Tim Agaba steps into the void left by Vermeulen at the back of the Bulls scrum.
“He just got a bang on the leg last week in the Green vs Gold game. He would have been fine to play, but I just think we have four, five weeks in a row now, and we just can’t afford to push him through. At the end of the day it’s a blessing that we can give other guys’ opportunity,” White said.
The Bulls backline remains largely unchanged from the unit that ran roughshod over the Sharks in the Super Fan Saturday warm-up at the same venue.
Blitzbok on the shelf
A notable absence is exciting Blitzbok winger Kurt-Lee Arendse who also picked up a niggle.
“Kurt-Lee got injured as well. He has a contusion on his quad and for him as an athlete it is a hell of a risk because we want him to run a lot. And a bit like Duane he will be ready probably next week and we didn’t want to risk it,” the Bulls Director of Rugby added.
“I think everyone understands as well that if we look at all the teams, a lot of the guys are getting those sort of injuries because of a lack of rugby. It is something we are going to have to manage.
“But I thought David played well in the second half of that Sharks game and it gives me a chance to have a look at him in the same combination that Kurt-Lee played with.”
Bulls matchday squad – Super Rugby Unlocked vs Griquas
Starting XV: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 David Kriel, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Arno Botha (c), 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Bulls Non-playing subs: 24 January Uys, 25 Duane Vermeulen, 26 Jade Stighling.