Bakkies Botha back for Bulls




The Bulls were given a massive boost ahead of their Round Four Super 14 encounter with the Chiefs in Pretoria on Saturday, with the return of Springbok lock Bakkies Botha.

Botha has, surprisingly, been named in the starting XV, after not having played any rugby for almost 12 months – as the Bulls attempt to put their faltering campaign (two defeats in the first three weeks) back on track.

Botha injured his Achilles and calf muscle in the latter stages of last year’s Super 14 competition and it later required surgery – ruling him out for the rest of the year.

He has now made a full recovery and although it was originally expected that he would make his comeback on the replacement bench, Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer has opted to start with the big man.

This also means the Bulls pack – that now has a very formidable look about it – has undergone a number of other changes.

Danie Rossouw, who has been partnering Victor Matfield at lock for the first three weeks, moves to the flank – with Anton Leonard moving from flank to number eight and Pedrie Wannenburg dropping down to the bench.

There are also a couple of changes in the backline.

Bok wing Bryan Habana has recovered from his injury and replaces Marius Delport in the number 11 jersey.

Forgotten Bok midfielder Wayne Julies, signed from the Lions this year, takes the place of injured Wynand Olivier at inside centre.

Olivier underwent minor knee surgery in a Pretoria hospital on Monday and will be out of action for between two and four weeks.

There is further good news with fly-half Derick Hougaard having recovered from the leg muscle injury that has sidelined him for the first three rounds. He will come off the bench, after he was declared fit to play on Wednesday.

However, the news is not so good for Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, who will have to stay home when the Bulls leave for Canberra on Sunday for their five-match Australasian tour.

Bulls doctor Tommie Smook confirmed that Ralepelle will be out of action for between two and four weeks, after injuring his knee cartilage during Monday’s training.

Bulls: 15 Johan Roets, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morn’ Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Anton Leonard, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Danie Rossouw, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Danie Thiart, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Jaco Engels, 17 Ruan Vermeulen, 18 Pedrie Wannenburg, 19 Derick Ku’n, 20 Heinie Adams, 21 Derick Hougaard, 22 Jaco van der Westhuyzen

Date: Saturday, 24 February
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Touch judges: Geoff Acton (Australia), Phillip Bosch (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

365 Digital

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