Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane has been entrusted with the captaincy as the Vodacom Bulls aim to break their early-season Vodacom Super Rugby losing streak against the Jaguares in Pretoria on Saturday.
Nyakane takes over as skipper from the injured Burger Odendaal and will lead a team showing six changes from last weekend’s heart-breaking last-minute defeat to the Blues. Kick-off at Loftus Versfeld is at 17h15.
With Odendaal out, Vodacom Bulls coach Pote Human has opted to move Johnny Kotze to inside centre, with Tongan international Nafi Tuitavake set to make his debut for the Pretorians at outside centre.
Tuitavake – capped 13 times for Tonga and the younger brother of All Black Anthony – made 20 Vodacom Super Rugby appearances for the Crusaders in 2014 before plying his trade in Europe for several seasons.
Embrose Papier gets a run at scrumhalf in a rotational move with Ivan van Zyl, while the introduction of Springbok looseforward Marco van Staden sees a rejigged back row for the clash, with Jeandré Rudolph moving to No 8 and Josh Strauss to the blindside.
It will be a special occasion for Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant, who will earn his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby cap on Saturday. He made his debut in 2016 against the DHL Stormers and has scored 15 tries in the famous blue jersey.
The Jaguares have won four of their six Vodacom Super Rugby clashes with the Vodacom Bulls, including a 22-20 victory in Pretoria last year – a game in which the Argentinian side won despite trailing at halftime.
The Vodacom Bulls will also be aware of the threat posed by the Jaguares’ rolling maul – the men from Buenos Aires have gained 108 metres from their lineout drives this season, almost double that of any other team, scoring a competition-high five maul tries in the process.
What they said:
Vodacom Bulls head coach Pote Human was emphatic about his expectations for the match: “Our backs could not be more against the wall at the moment. We have made improvements since the first match but we’re still not doing enough within 80 minutes. We need to get the result.”
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Trevor Nyakane (captain), 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Head to head:
Matches played: 6
Vodacom Bulls won: 2
Jaguares won: 4
Vodacom Bulls points: 136
Jaguares points: 179
Average score: 23-30
Date: Saturday, 29 February
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
SA Time: 17h15
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Griffin Colby (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)