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Sports Reporter

Former Junior Springbok No 8 Muller Uys and Ian Groenewald (lock) will make their Vodacom Super Rugby debuts when the Vodacom Bulls host the Highlanders in Pretoria on Saturday.

Vodacom Bulls coach, Pote Human made four changes in total to the side that lost to the Jaguares with Ruan Nortje partnering Groenewald in a new-look second row combination.

There is one change in the backline, where Manie Libbok gets his first start of the season at flyhalf as Morné Steyn is shifted to the bench.

The 28-year-old Groenewald has previously represented DHL Western Province and Tafel Lager Griquas as well as the Italian club Verona.

Uys’ standout performances for the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-21 side last year, has earned him a well-deserved promotion to Vodacom Super Rugby action. 

Both of them impressed throughout training sessions and warm-up matches and they now have the opportunity to impress at higher honours.

What they said: 

Vodacom Bulls head coach Pote Human said his side is in desperate need of their first win of the season. However, he is also excited about the prospects of seeing Uys and Groenewald’s performing in their debut outings: “Tough choices had to be made and the players, and I, understand what needs to be done and we accept accountability. There is no doubt that we have our backs against the wall and would need to deal with that pressure to restore the pride and belief of the Loftus faithful.”

The teams:

Vodacom Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Muller Uys, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Trevor Nyakane (captain), 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Ryno Pieterse, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Divan Rossouw.

Highlanders – 15 Michael Collins, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Ngane Punivai, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone. Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Teihorangi Walden, 23 Tima Fainga’anuku.

Head to head:
Played: 22
Vodacom Bulls won: 6
Highlanders: 14
Draws: 2
Vodacom Bulls points: 530
Highlanders 631
Average score: 24-29

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 7 March
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
SA time: 17h15
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Egon Seconds (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)

Source: SA Rugby Union

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