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Vodacom Bulls scrumhalf, Embrose Papier, and centre, Cornal Hendricks, are the only changes to the side’s starting XV that will face Benetton Rugby in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship Round 16 match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Papier, who has missed out on action in the previous two matches after sustaining a concussion in the match against the Dragons last month, will return to the team to continue where he left off with his good form while Zak Burger will provide No9 cover from the bench.

The experienced Hendricks will be no stranger in the midfield where he will partner up with Lionel Mapoe as Stedman Gans is roped in as a replacement on the bench.

The match will also provide an opportunity for the Vodacom Bulls’ most recent signing, Dylan Smith, who has arrived in Tshwane early, to make his team and Vodacom URC debut from the bench on Saturday.

The talented front rower will provide cover at tighthead prop.

Another change on the bench will include the return of hooker, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, from injury where he will provide backup for starting hooker, Johan Grobbelaar.

The Vodacom Bulls expect a testing encounter against the visiting team from Italy when they meet this weekend.

“We are expecting a tough match against Benetton this weekend, as we found when we faced them in the final of the Rainbow Cup last year,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“They are a good side that has had some good wins against strong teams such as the DHL Stormers and Edinburgh, among other wins this season. They will also be full of confidence with a full complement of their international players who were involved when Italy beat Wales not too long ago in the Six Nations.

“We will need to be at our best to counter a dangerous team like Benetton.”

The match will kick-off at 14h00 and it will be televised on SuperSport.

It will be a festive affair at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Children under the age of 18 will be allowed to enter the stadium for free. Tickets for children will be collectable at the stadium entry gates. Adults can purchase their tickets from as little as R25 per ticket.

There will be plenty of entertainment on the day with a kiddies’ area on the D-field and a beer garden for adults.

Rugby fanatics can also look forward to a curtain-raiser match which will signal the start of the 2021 Women’s Premier Division competition when the Blue Bulls Women take on Border Ladies at 11h40.

There will also be an afterparty at the beer garden with entertainment from popular Jacaranda FM DJs Mack Rapapali and Thabiso Khambule aka Lallie.

The Vodacom Bulls team to face Benetton Rugby is:

STARTERS (15-1): Kurt-Lee Arendse (Betway Centurion), Canan Moodie (Pretoria), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Cornal Hendricks (Northam Rhinos), Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria), Chris Smith (Harlequins), Embrose Papier (UP Tuks), Elrigh Louw (UP Tuks), Cyle Brink (Betway Centurion), Marcell Coetzee (CAPT, ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion), Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion), Johan Grobbelaar (UP Tuks), Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle).

IMPACT (16-23): Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Pretoria), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Dylan Smith (Tuine), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Zak Burger (UP Tuks), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Stedman Gans (Northam Rhinos).

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