Bulls welcome Brumbies to Loftus
February 17, 2010
Pedrie Wannenburg will play his 100th Super Rugby game for the Bulls © Getty Images
The Bulls were in dominant form as they opened their account with a bonus-point victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend, but the reigning Super 14 champions will need to keep sharp as they welcome the Brumbies to Lofus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Australian franchise dominated the post-season transfer market by swooping for Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom and fly-half Matt Giteau. Both players will make their season bows in Pretoria, with Elsom slotting into a fearsome back-row alongside George Smith and Stephen Hoiles and Giteau replacing Matt Toomua at fly-half.
The Bulls have welcomed back the versatile Francois Hougaard on the wing in place of John Mametsa while youngster Stephan Dippenaar is drafted into midfield as a replacement for the injured Jaco Pretorius.
Danie Rossouw was earmarked to continue in the second-row during the injury absence of Bakkies Botha but picked up a neck injury in training, his place going to Flip van der Merwe. Flanker Pedrie Wannenburg will win his 100th Super Rugby cap for the Bulls.
Bulls boss Frans Ludeke was full of praise for their opponents, saying that they possessed a complete game.
"They are a quality side with a lot of international players," he said. "They have a great record in Super Rugby and bring a lot to the game. They have an excellent kicking game and are famous for their running game. So we will have to be at our best to beat them."
Brumbies coach Andy Friend believes that a trip to Loftus represents one of the toughest challenges in the tournament, and is backing his side to step up to the physical challenge.
"The Bulls at Loftus Versfeld presents a significant challenge for any side in the competition," Friend said. "There's an appreciation within the side that we need to step up from where we finished last week and we've identified where we need to improve against a quality Bulls outfit. We certainly need to be more physical in the contest and I think Rocky will help us achieve that."
Bulls: Zane Kirchner; Gerhard van den Heever, Stephan Dippenaar, Wynand Olivier, Francois Hougaard; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Gurthro Steenkamp. Gary Botha, Werner Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Victor Matfield, Deon Stegmann, Pedrie Wannenburg, Pierre Spies
Replacements: Bandise Maku, Bees Roux, Fudge Mabeta, Derick Kuün, Heini Adams, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, John Mametsa
Brumbies: Adam Ashley-Cooper; Pat McCabe, Stirling Mortlock, Christian Lealiifano, Francis Fainifo; Matt Giteau, Josh Valentine; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Salesi Ma'afu, Justin Harrison, Mark Chisholm, Rocky Elsom, George Smith, Stephen Hoiles (capt)
Replacements: Huia Edmonds, Guy Shepherdson, Ben Hand, Mitchell Chapman, Patrick Phibbs, Matt Toomua, Tyrone Smith
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game