Vodacom Bulls coach, Frans Ludeke, announced a very experienced side to face the Lions in the opening match of their Super Rugby campaign at Coca Cola Park on Saturday. The side will be led by Victor Matfield, who will be playing in his 110th Super match and have a combined Super Rugby experience of 1059 matches.
Ludeke had the luxury to pick 15 players involved in the Super Rugby final of 2010 when the Bulls beat the Stormers in Soweto, with former Cheetahs-flyer Bjorn Basson the only new face in blue.
Fourie du Preez will become the fourth centurion in the team when he runs on the field for his 100th match.
Ludeke said that his side has been working hard in pre-season and that they are keen to get stuck in.
“We are ready for the competition phase and are determined to do well. We set high standards and will be looking to be successful again in the new format of Super Rugby. It will be tough, but we back our depth and systems,” the coach said.
Ludeke admits that the Lions first up will be a huge challenge.
“They certainly have some momentum going into the competition and will ask serious questions. We will focus on what we do best though and feel that we have put in the work to come out on top. We are certainly not looking past this match and realize that we will have to execute on the day.”
Matfield echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“We are always trying to do the small things better, but will have to do a lot of them right if we want to beat the Lions. Let’s not forget that is a local derby and those are always your toughest matches.”
The team (Super Caps in brackets) is: Zane Kirchner (40), Gerhard van den Heever (17), Stephan Dippenaar (12), Wynand Olivier (71), Bjorn Basson (9), Morné Steyn (73), Fourie du Preez (99), Pierre Spies (56), Dewald Potgieter (31), Deon Stegmann (39), Victor Matfield (109), Bakkies Botha (86), Werner Kruger (42), Gary Botha (73), Gurthrö Steenkamp (66). Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle (19), Rossouw de Klerk (1), Danie Rossouw (102), Derick Kuün (56), Ruan Snyman (1), Francois Brummer (1), Jaco van der Westhuyzen (56).
●Fourie du Preez will become the first backline player in Bulls history to play 100 Super Rugby matches. Three other Bulls forwards are centurions already. Pedrie Wannenburg (113), Victor Matfield (109*) and Danie Rossouw reached that milestone in 2010.
●Bjorn Basson will make his debut for the Bulls in Super Rugby after joining from the Cheetahs, where he played in nine Super Rugby matches.
* Matfield played 101 times for the Bulls and 8 times for the Cats
|The Vodacom Bulls fixtures list for 2011 are:|
|Feb 19: v Lions (Johannesburg) 19:10|
|Feb 25: v Cheetahs (Bloemfontein) 19:10|
|March 5: v Highlanders (Pretoria) 19:10|
|March 19: v Stormers (Pretoria) 19:10|
|March 26: v Lions (Pretoria) 17:05|
|April 02: v Hurricanes (Wellington) 08:35|
|April 09: v Crusaders (Christchurch) 09:35|
|April 16: v Reds (Brisbane) 11:40|
|April 23: v Western Force (Perth) 14:05|
|April 30: v Chiefs (Pretoria) 17:05|
|May 14: v Rebels (Pretoria) 17:05|
|May 21: v Sharks (Durban) 19:10|
|May 28: v Cheetahs (Pretoria) 19:10|
|June 3: v Waratahs (Pretoria) 19:10|
|June 11: v Stormers (Cape Town) 18:10|
|June 18: v Sharks (Pretoria) 17:05|