A brand new face in Jano Vermaak and a first Blue Bulls Currie Cup appearance for Springbok wing Bjorn Basson. That was the big news from Pretoria ahead of Friday's Absa Currie Cup clash against the Pumas in Nelspruit.
Former Golden Lions star Vermaak has been rushed straight into the Bulls' starting line-up - at the expense of Dustin Jinka, who drops to the bench - whilst try-machine Basson has recovered from concussion as he, too, gets set for his Bulls (Currie Cup) debut.
Basson and Vermaak - who was released by the Lions this week - will be joined in the starting XV by fit-again Springbok centre Wynand Olivier (who will line up in the No.12 jersey).
Olivier, in turn, will have to look after greenhorn flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff who replaces Francois Brummer in the all-too-crucial No.10 shirt.
In another unenforced change to the Bulls backs division - in the aftermath of their 27-36 loss to the Lions last weekend - coach Pine Pienaar has moved another Bok, Zane Kirchner, to outside centre.
Coach Pienaar has handed the No.15 jersey to Tuks ace Jurgen Visser, who played in that position against Western Province two weeks ago.
"It's a new backline, but one that I am really excited about," said Pienaar after announcing his team.
"We are happy to welcome Jano [Vermaak] to our midst and I know he will make a massive contribution in our long climb to the top four.
"Jurgen [Visser] has an attacking mindset and I would expect him to play accordingly and Marnitz [Boshoff] deserve a chance after being on the bench in the first four matches."
Pienaar was also happy with the return of Olivier and Basson - both of whom were unavailable last week because of injuries, despite returning from Bok duty.
The Bulls coach added: "They are international players and proven at this level. They will make a massive difference.
"The Pumas have shown that big names mean nothing to them and are a very tough nut to crack. We will have to play our best rugby of the season for the full 80 minutes if we want to achieve victory."
Backs Stephan Dippenaar, Stefan Watermeyer, Francois Brummer and Lohan Jacobs and forwards Derick Kuün and Fudge Mabeta all drop out of the matchday 22 from last week, whilst the Bulls mentor has leaned heavily on the young talent at his disposal amongst his replacements.
One such youngster, SA Under-20 captain Arno Botha (No.8), has been named on the bench in what would be his first taste of Currie Cup action. Botha will be joined on the bench by Vodacom Cup captain Gerrit-Jan van Velze and backs Louis Fouché and Francois Venter.
The Bulls have won just one match - from four starts - this season; suffering two successive losses over the past fortnight - in Cape Town (two weeks ago) and at home last weekend - which sees them occupy last position on the Currie Cup log.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Francois Venter.
Date: Friday, August 12
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05)
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende Cobus Wessels
TMO: Johann Meuwesen
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