The Blue Bulls have named seven of their eight returning Springboks in the team to face the Lions in a Currie Cup clash in Pretoria on Saturday.
Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle would return to the starting XV, the Bulls announced on Wednesday, with Gary Botha moving to the bench and relinquishing the captaincy to Dewald Potgieter.
The side would also welcome the return of fullback Zane Kirchner, wing Bjorn Basson, lock Flip van der Merwe, and props Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling. Returning openside flank Deon Stegmann has been named on the bench for the match.
These players were part of a group of 23 Springboks released this week to play in the domestic competition.
The only Bok player who would not feature in the match, the Bulls said, was centre Wynand Olivier who was nursing a shoulder injury.
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar also made a tactical shift with 20-year-old centre Francois Venter replacing Stephan Dippenaar.
Pienaar said Venter would play at inside centre with Stefan Watermeyer moving to the outside centre position.
CJ Stander also comes into the side at No.8, replacing Gerrit-Jan van Velze in a re-jigged loose trio.
Fullback Jurgen Visser and wing Gerhard van den Heever were unavailable after picking up injuries against Western Province last weekend.
"It is great to have some familiar faces back as this will give us a lot of confidence in this crucial game at home," Pienaar said.
"Individually, all those players will bring a lot to our effort, but we will still need to play as a team if we want to be successful," he warned.
"The Lions are not the front runners for nothing."
Potgieter said the captaincy is a huge honour, but not the main focus on his mind.
"We need to get some consistency and momentum in our performances. It will be important to make sure all of us are pulling in the same direction in achieving that."
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Dustin Jinka, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 6 Derick Küun, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Fudge Mabeta, 19 Deon Stegmann, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Marntiz Boshoff, 22 Stephan Dippenaar.
Date: Saturday, August 6
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
SAPA and rugby365.com
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