Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke handed flanker Roelof Smit a first time starting berth in announcing his team to play the Melbourne Rebels at Loftus Versfeld on Friday. Smit debuted for the Vodacom Bulls from the bench against the DHL Stormers last weekend and now start in the number six jersey in one of seven changes to the starting line-up.
Jurgen Visser is back at fullback, having recovered from an abductor strain that kept him out of the Newlands clash and replace Ulrich Beyers. Francois Hougaard will play on the wing, replacing the injured Akona Ndungane, with Piet van Zyl starting at scrumhalf. With Grant Hattingh injured, Jacques Engelbrecht will move back to No 8, Jono Ross moves to 7 and Smit slots in at 6.
Ludeke also changed his front row. Marcel van der Merwe will start at tighthead, Bandise Maku gets a rare start at hooker and Mornè Mellett will start at loose head for the first time this season.
They replace Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie and Dean Greyling, who will all start off the bench. Ludeke also included Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg on the bench and should he get a run, the Junior Springbok lock will make his Vodacom Bulls debut. Jesse Kriel is also on the bench for the first time at this level.
The Vodacom Bulls team is: Jurgen Visser, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Handré Pollard, Piet van Zyl, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jono Ross, Roelof Smit, Victor Matfield, Paul Willemse, Marcel van der Merwe, Bandise Maku, Morné Mellett. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Marvin Orie, Jesse Kriel, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, William-Small Smith.