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Morne Steyn is set to feature in Vodacom Bulls colours for the 151st time* as the Pretoria outfit is ready to welcome noisy neighbours, the Emirates Lions in a classic Jukskei derby at Loftus Versfeld. BBCo. Director of Rugby, Jake White announced his side that will lace up against the Joburg-based team as the two South African rivals meet in round 15 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship, on Saturday 04 March 2023.

The two old foes met in round 1 of this campaign, with White’s men registering a resounding 31-15 victory in Johannesburg. However, this return clash has more weight to it as Pretoria’s team will be looking for maximum points to elevate higher on the log whilst the visitors will be hoping to find something that can give them hopes of a playoff spot. Thus, giving both sides enough tantalising motivation to make this, a possible derby for the ages.

Kick-off for the battle of the Jukskei bragging rights is set for 16h45pm CAT, with gates opening from 12h00 midday.

Dylan Smith and WJ Steenkamp are the only changes to the forwards’ pack that did duty a week ago, whilst Embrose Papier and Morne Steyn combine at halfback. David Kriel moves into inside centre with Cornal Hendricks on his outside, as Wandisile Simelane starts at fullback. Speedster, Sbu Nkosi (left) is joined by Sibongile Novuka (right) on the wings, adding more firepower to the pace of the lineup.

Bernard van der Linde is the only other addition to the matchday 23 that is set to feature from the impact squad, alongside the likes of Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Ruan Vermaak, Cyle Brink, Chris Smith and centre Harold Vorster.

Speaking about his expectations for the match, White commented: “We are still feeling a bit sore after the loss to the Stormers because we felt (at 12-3 up) we could have won it, but we must get back on the horse because we lost a game we thought we should have won, we could win and now we must make sure we turn it around,”

“Looking at the Lions team that is coming here, they probably picked the biggest team they have and that means we must be ready to deal with their biggest pack of forwards possible and that is not going to be easy,”

“we only made one or two changes because we still do not have Canan [Moodie] and Kurt-Lee [Arendse] who are still with the Bok camp, so we have moved Wandi to the back and Sibongile comes in at wing. The nice thing though is that majority of this group has played together and they understand one another,”

“If you look at our front row, we have been happy with how they have operated and now it will be good to see Dylan in there. He has played in Super Rugby finals and at 28 years old, it is time that he gets his chance,”

“We have four big games coming up now and the first big one is against the Lions.”

The fortress will be a hype of activity on the day, as the Vodacom Bulls will take on a Loftus 200 invitational side in a curtain-raiser to the main event. This is part of the final preparations as the 2023 edition of South Africa’s premier rugby competition, the Currie Cup is set to start in the coming week.

Kick-off for the curtain raiser is set for 14h00pm CAT.

More than 17 000 tickets have already been sold for the clash and rugby fans can still purchase theirs from as little as R25.00c through the Vodacom Bulls App and TicketPro

VODACOM BULLS vs EMIRATES LIONS STARTING XV: 1. Dylan Smith, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Jacques Du Plessis, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. WJ Steenkamp, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Morne Steyn, 11. Sbu Nkosi, 12. David Kriel, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 14. Sibongile Novuka, 15. Wandisile Simelane

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Ruan Vermaak, 20. Cyle Brink, 21. Bernard van der Linde, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Harold Vorster

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

VODACOM BULLS vs LOFTUS 200 STARTING XV: 1. Jacques van Rooyen, 2. Joe van Zyl, 3. Sebastian Lombard, 4. Reinhardt Ludwig (c), 5. Janko Swanepoel, 6. Phumzile Maqondwana, 7. Mihlali Mosi, 8. Cameron Hanekom, 9. Keagan Johannes, 10. Chris Barend Smit, 11. Adriaan Joubert, 12. Carlton Bannies, 13. Kabelo Mokoena, 14. Franco Knoetze, 15. Quewin Nortje

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Lizo Gqoboka, 17. Tiaan Lange, 18. Robert Hunt, 19. Juan van der Westhuizen, 20. Muller Uys, 21. Merwe Olivier, 22. Sydney Tobias, 23. Jack Hart, 24. Juan Mostert, 25. Eugene Hare, 26. Johan Grobbelaar, 27. JJ Mothlodi

* This is a combination of Vodacom United Rugby Championship and Super Rugby caps, it does not include Currie Cup and Heineken Champions Cup caps.

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