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The Vodacom Bulls prepare to welcome the Novavit Griffons with a rotated side ahead of round 13 clash in the 2023 Currie Cup campaign. The herd will welcome the Welkom-based team to Loftus Versfeld on Friday 02 June, with kick-off set for 17h00pm.

At the front, Jan-Hendrik Wessels comes in for Johan Grobbelaar with Francois Klopper lining up alongside him, swapping places with Mornay Smith who slots into the impact squad. In the second row, the lock combination sees Ruan Vermaak pair up with Janko Swanepoel who comes into the fold in place of Ruan Nortje. The back row has captain, Marcell Coetzee (blindside flanker) alongside Cyle Brink (openside flanker) and eight-man, Nizaam Carr.

At the back: Embrose Papier will have a new partner at halfback as Chris Smith starts at fly-half with Johan Goosen moving to full-back. Goosen’s switch sees David Kriel move to left wing this week, where he will pair up with Cornal Hendricks on the right. Chris Barend Smit will start at inside centre replacing Harold Vorster with Stedman Gans retaining his spot at outside centre.

The impact squad has Simphiwe Matanzima, Joe van Zyl, Mornay Smith, Reinhardt Ludwig, Mihlali Mosi, Keagan Johannes, Sibongile Novuka and Wandisile Simelane who returns from a hamstring niggle.

Director of Rugby, Jake White said: “Any sports star – whether cricket or tennis or golf – doesn’t like to lose but we are not going into the fixture looking for revenge,”

“It is no different this week, at home against the Griffons. Yes, they did beat us the last time we played but we know we have to win this game to remain in contention for the playoffs, so this match is bigger than just revenge or changing what has happened in the past, it is about staying alive in the competition,”

“The win in Mbombela last week was important for our campaign. If you consider that after four rounds we hadn’t won a game and only had three points and now we still have a chance to make the playoffs, I think it has been a great effort from our guys,”

“There is a lot of excitement, we trained quite nicely this week and the players are looking forward to playing at Loftus this Friday.”

VODACOM BULLS vs NOVAVIT GRIFFONS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp (Naka Bulle), 2. Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Pretoria), 3. Francois Klopper (Tuine), 4. Ruan Vermaak (Naka Bulle), 5. Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), 6. Marcell Coetzee (c) (Naka Bulle), 7. Mihlali Mosi (Centurion), 8. Nizaam Carr (Harlequins), 9. Embrose Papier (UP Tuks), 10. Chris Smith (Harlequins), 11. David Kriel (Centurion), 12. Chris Barend Smit (Harlequins), 13. Stedman Gans (Northam Rhinos), 14. Cornal Hendricks (Northam Rhinos), 15. Johan Goosen (Naka Bulle)

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima (Naka Bulle), 17. Joe van Zyl (Harlequins), 18. Mornay Smith (Centurion), 19. Reinhardt Ludwig (UP Tuks), 20. Ruan Nortje, 21. Keagan Johannes (UP Tuks), 22. Sibongile Novuka (Naka Bulle), 23. Wandisile Simelane (Centurion)

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Sean Everitt – Defence & Breakdown, Hugo van As – Backline, Gert Smal – Forwards, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Yusuf Vahed – Sports Scientist, Dr. Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Meyer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Zama Dyidi – Logistics Manager

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