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The Vodacom Bulls have announced a strong matchday 23 that will do battle against the DHL Stormers in round 14 of the  2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship, in Pretoria. The herd sees minimal changes in the front, with a number of forced changes to the back.

The clash between these two South African rugby titans is set for Loftus Versfeld with kick-off scheduled for 17h05pm in the afternoon.

The Pretoria outfit are still without the services of Springbok duo, Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse, who are still on a rest break whilst creative midfielder, Johan Goosen recovers from a successful shoulder surgery that will see him side-lined for up to six weeks.

Lock, Jacques Du Plessis, is the only change in the forward pack from the matchday squad that lined up against Welsh side, Scarletts. At the back, Director of Rugby, Jake White has made a number of changes, with Zak Burger and Chris Smith combining at half-back. In the midfield, Harold Vorster and Wandisile Simelane pair up as inside and outside centre’s respectively.

Speedstar, Sbu Nkosi returns into the fold to start at left wing whilst Cornal Hendricks gets a run on the right with David Kriel shifting to full-back.

Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Ruan Vermaak,  Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Morne Steyn and Lionel Mapoe will all get the opportunity their run from the bench.

Steyn, will run out for his 150th club game in the Vodacom Super Rugby and United Rugby Championship era, a feat only achieved by a select few players. The Springbok and Vodacom Bulls legend has spent the last 14 years applying his trade in Pretoria, earning his unrivalled icon status across South Africa’s rugby-loving communities.

Speaking with the media at the team announcement press conference, White reflected on Nkosi’s return by saying: “You never know when the right time is. Had we had Canan [Moodie] or Kurt-Lee [Arendse] or maybe Johan Goosen he may have been on the bench, because those guys would have been guys we go to. But sometimes life works in a wonderful way. I think he needs to play well for himself,”

“They always say get back on the horse as quickly as you can and I think he’s a World Cup winner, he is very talented, he wants to play rugby, and there is no use for me to wait another week or two. What am I going to achieve by that? I think it is a great opportunity for him to get on the horse again and then hopefully if he has a great game tomorrow everything will be positive for him too,”

“But there is no pressure – it isn’t as if I’m putting pressure on him. I just want him to get back onto the field and it is a great game,”

“How nice it must be for him to come back and there are 40 000 people here in a north-south derby. It is a nice way to get back in rugby.”

On Jacques Du Plessis returning after recovering from a broken hand, the Vodacom Bulls mentor said: “Jacques played really well in that Lyon game and then he broke his hand. He would have had a lot more game time had he not been injured. As it turned out he had a bit of a break and he is now fit to play,”

“I thought Ruan Vermaak played very well in the time he played while I was away. He hasn’t been dropped or anything. It is just a chance for Jacques,”

“In a lot of ways we’re probably missing something in our pack, perhaps someone older – he’s 28 and played in France. I had him in Montpellier when he was younger so I’ve known him a long time and I’m hoping he is the little bit of something that we need in our pack.

“He has won the Challenge Cup when I was at Montpellier in front of a big crowd. He’s played in big games at Clermont, Toulon and Toulouse so I’m hoping that added little bit of experience will help us.”

With already more than 35 000 tickets sold, the hosts expect a full house which will bolster their confidence as they look to continue building momentum towards the playoffs of the championships. The expected crowd is set to be the largest in the competition, for a match featuring two sides, with the current record attendance set at 62 000 for the 2018 edition of Judgement Day; a fixture that features all four teams in Wales, playing at the Principality Stadium, over one afternoon.

Tickets for the clash start from R25.00c and can still be purchased through the Vodacom Bulls App and TicketPro

VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Jacques Du Plessis, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11. Sbu Nkosi, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 14. Cornal Hendricks, 15. David Kriel

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Ruan Vermaak, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Morne Steyn, 23. Lionel Mapoe

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr. Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Meyer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager

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