Former Boland player Hayden Groepes and returning Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, will earn first starts in this year’s Absa Currie Cup competition when the Vodacom Blue Bulls face the Leopards at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
Groepes, who joined the Blue Bulls on a short term contract earlier this year, will start on the left wing in place of John Mametsa, while Ralepelle will have a rare start, replacing Blue Bulls captain, Gary Botha, in the number two jersey.
Ralepelle played off the bench last week against the Lions and will relish the opportunity to stretch his legs.
Bees Roux, who started his provincial career at the Leopards, will also start for the first time in Currie Cup since moving from Griquas last year in place of Werner Kruger, while the return to fitness of Jaco Pretorius, will see the former Springbok midfielder start in his first game since the Vodacom Super 14 final in May, with Stephan Dippenaar moving down to the bench.
Derick Kuün will captain the side, who also have newcomers Frik Kirsten and Dustin Jinka on the bench.
Kirsten played in seven matches in 2009 before succumbing to a neck injury and has just returned to fitness, whilst Jinka also trekked north in recent times after picking up a contract at the Bulls.
Kruger, Botha and Mametsa drops out altogether.
“This was a good time for us to use our squad system and to give some of the regulars a rest. But for those one or two rested, this is the strongest squad I could pick. We are expecting a huge, physical battle from the Leopards and will have to be up for this game. The new guys in the team will make sure we front up as they can’t wait to have a run,” Ludeke said.
The team is:
Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaco Pretorius, Stefan Watermeyer, Hayden Groepes, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Dewald Potgieter, Derick Kuün (c), Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Bees Roux, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jaco Engels. Replacements: Bandise Maku, Frik Kirsten, Mthunzi Mabeta, CJ Stander, Dustin Jinka, Francois Brummer, Stephan Dippenaar.