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Bismarck du Plessis will make his Vodacom Bulls debut when the side takes on Leinster Rugby in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship opening match at Aviva Stadium, in Dublin, on Saturday.

The 37-year-old hooker is set to add to the already existing stability of the front row, where he will partner with props Mornay Smith and Gerhard Steenekamp.

In the second row, Ruan Nortje and Walt Steenkamp will make up the lock pairing, while the familiar loose trio of captain, Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha and Elrigh Louw will complete the forwards pack.

Flyhalf, Johan Goosen, returns to the starting XV for the half-back pairing with Zak Burger, while the midfield pair of Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe continue where they left off in South African domestic rugby. Madosh Tambwe, Cornal Hendricks and David Kriel complete the make up of the starting XV as the outside backs.

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, said ahead of the game: “We have had some good momentum in the South African domestic scene, and we hope we can transfer that form to the Vodacom URC.

“We are in for great challenge in this quality championship against competitive opposition. To have the opportunity of facing a top side like Leinster Rugby will be the perfect opportunity to measure ourselves against one of the best sides in Europe.

“We have opted for continuity in our selection, with a team that has a good blend of youth and experience. We are confident that the inclusion of Bismarck du Plessis, whose experience is invaluable, will add great value both in our play and giving some direction as a leader.”

The match will kick off at 18h15 (17h15 UK time), and it will be televised on SuperSport.

Vodacom Bulls: (15-9; 1-8)

David Kriel (Betway Centurion), Cornal Hendricks (Northam), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Harold Vorster (Northam), Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria), Johan Goosen (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Zak Burger (Tuine); Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion), Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Marcell Coetzee (CAPT, ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Elrigh Louw (FNB Tuks)

Replacements: Joe van Zyl (Harlequins), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Jacques du Plessis (FNB Tuks), Keagan Johannes (FNB Tuks), Chris Smith (Harlequins), Stedman Gans (Northam)

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