|The Vodacom Bulls welcomed the return of Johan Grobbelaar to match fitness. The front-rower had been side-lined since mid-December after picking up an injury when the herd travelled to Lyon in round 2 of the Champions Cup. ‘Grobbies’ forms part of the impact squad as the men in blue await the arrival of their noisy neighbours, the Emirates Lions for round 9 of the 2023/24 Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
The Jukskei derby will kick off at 15h00 and tickets start from R 25.00c with school-going kids entering the stadium for free as the franchise celebrates the ‘back to school’ season.
Grobbelaar will also be joined by his captain, Ruan Nortje in the list of notable returnees, although Nortje has featured in the last two fixtures for the Tshwane-based side. Nortje will start his first match since being sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained in round 6 of the competition against Connacht.
Nortje, who captains the side this week, will line up at lock alongside Deon Slabbert to his left. Ahead of the lanky pair will be a front row comprising Simphiwe Matanzima at loosehead prop with Mornay Smith at tighthead as Akker van der Merwe slots in between the bulky pair, at hooker.
Marco van Staden returns to action after his mandatory rest and he starts at openside flank, pairing up with Elrigh Louw at blindside with Celimpilo ‘Mpilo’ ka Gumede on eighthman duties.
Embrose Papier at scrum-half and Johan Goosen at fly-half, once more combine at halfback with the centre combination of Harold Vorster (inside) and David Kriel (outside) behind them. On the wings, the Vodacom Bulls will see Sergeal Petersen run out at left wing with Sebastian de Klerk on the right-hand side of the fortress. Willie le Roux completes the starting fifteen at fullback.
The returning Grobbelaar will form part of a 6-2 split impact squad that will feature Dylan Smith, Khutha Mchunu, Reinhardt Ludwig, Cameron Hanekom, Keagan Johannes, Devon Williams and Marcell Coetzee.
VODACOM BULLS vs EMIRATES LIONS STARTING XV:
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: