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The Vodacom Bulls are bracing themselves for a heated battle when they take on the Cell C Sharks in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

David Kriel will make a return to the side, starting at fullback, this weekend while Cornal Hendricks will also earn a starting berth on the right wing in the only changes to the backline in the starting XV.

Gerhard Steenekamp will be the only new face to the forwards pack that started against the Emirates Lions last week. He changes spots with Simphiwe Matanzima in a rotational switch, as the former makes his way to the bench.

The Vodacom Bulls are wary of the threat that will be a Springbok-laden Cell C Sharks side that will be looking to bounce back after suffering a defeat against the DHL Stormers last weekend.

“The Cell C Sharks are always a formidable opponent, and we will have to be at our best when we face a side that is so full of talent,” Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“For us to face a team with the SA Rugby Player of the Year, Siya Kolisi is a challenge we should look forward to. Furthermore, it is also inspirations to be able to play a domestic derby against the captain of the national team who also collects all of these accolades for his performance on and off the field. It certainly is inspiring that we have players of his calibre who choose to remain and play domestically when he could easily take up a contract elsewhere.

“This will be a great opportunity for youngsters like Elrigh Louw to be able to go up against an inspirational character like Siya. Then you also have players like Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi and a host of others in that Cell C Sharks team whom our guys will want to measure themselves against in a premier competition like the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

“We can look forward to a thrilling game at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.”

The match will kick off at 17h05, and it will be televised on SuperSport.

The Vodacom Bulls team is:

STARTERS (15-1): David Kriel (Betway Centurion), Cornal Hendricks (Northam Rhinos), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Harold Vorster (Northam Rhinos), Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Zak Burger (Tuine); Elrigh Louw (UP Tuks), Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Marcell Coetzee (CAPT, ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion), Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine), Johan Grobbelaar (UP Tuks), Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle).

Replacements (16-23): Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Robert Hunt (Harlequins), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Muller Uys (UP Tuks), Embrose Papier (UP Tuks), Chris Smith (Harlequins), Canan Moodie (Pretoria).

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