Super Rugby Unlocked: Marcel van der Merwe return bolsters Bulls

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Marcel van der Merwe will get his first start since returning to Pretoria from France earlier this year, when the Bulls host Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

White tweaks starting XV

Director of Rugby Jake White has made a few changes to his team for this clash against the Sharks, after the Bulls narrow defeat against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend.

In a strength for strength change van der Merwe is included at tighthead prop in place of another Springbok, Trevor Nyakane, who drops to the bench for the visit of a reinforced Sharks team.

Joining Nyakane on the subs bench is Arno Botha, who will provide loose forward cover while former Junior Bok Elrigh Louw will get his first start at this level at flank.

White also made a number of changes to the Blue Bulls’ backline as well with exciting youngster David Kriel shifting to fullback in place of the injured of Gio Aplon. Springbok wing Travis Ismaiel and Blitzbok speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse have been selected on the wings having recovered from respective knocks.

A new midfield combination will run out against the KwaZulu-Natalians, with Cornal Hendricks shifting back to inside centre while Stedman Gans will man the outside centre channel on game day.

The final change in the backline sees Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier swapping places at starting scrumhalf.

“We’ve got another opportunity this week against the Sharks but we need to be better than we were in Bloemfontein,” said White ahead of the fixture.

“We cannot afford to depend on a late comeback to save our graces which means dominating all phases of play from the first kick-off.”

Super Rugby Unlocked: Bulls team vs Sharks

Starting XV: 15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Match information – Bulls vs Sharks

Date: Saturday 24 October 2020

Time: 19:00

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Paul Mente

Television Match Official: AJ Jacobs

TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby

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