Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer has surprised by naming Springbok Jaco van der Westhuyzen on the wing for their Round Five Super 14 match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
In all Meyer has made three changes to the team – Van der Westhuyzen on the wing for Akona Ndungane, Derick Hougaard at fly-half for Morn’ Steyn and Pedrie Wannenburg at number eight for Anton Leonard.
Meyer said all three changes are related to a “rotation” policy and the need to give some players much needed game time.
“Firstly I wanted to bring in the guys who were on the bench last week,” Meyer said in a telephone link-up from the team’s base in Sydney – where they are preparing for the encounter in Canberra.
“I wanted the guys to be fresh after the [long] flight and I’m giving some other guys a run.
“Akona [Ndungane] has played four games in a row and Jaco [van der Westhuyzen] gets a chance.
“Jaco is also back-up to [Johan] Roets at fullback and if he doesn’t get game time and he has to come on [if Roets is injured] then he could be a but rusty.
“Akona is getting a break and will come on in the second half.
“The loose forwards are the same, I’m rotating them. Anton played through last week and Pedrie [Wannenburg] comes in to start. We’ll give Wikus [van Heerden] a break later.
“Derick Hougaard hasn’t played for four or five weeks and it could become too long between games. I feel Morn’ is good when he comes on in the second half. He has played very well the last few weeks.
“I just feel the guys who haven’t had much game time needs to get on the park in case there’s an injury – just so that they are not rusty.”
He also spoke about the decision to play Van der Westhuyzen on the wing, instead of one of his preferred positions of fly-half or fullback.
“Jaco often comes off his wing and in at fly-half,” Meyer said. “He hasn’t played much on the wing, but in 2000 I played him at wing when he made his Super Rugby debut. I also need his experience for Saturday.”
The Bulls had to train in pouring rain on Wednesday, but Meyer is satisfied with his team’s preparation.
“I am impressed by the urgency with which the players took part in our two training sessions so far. They are very focused,” Meyer said.
Bulls: 15 Johan Roets, 14 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 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 Anton Leonard, 19 Derick Ku’n, 20 Heinie Adams, 21 Morn’ Steyn, 22 Akona Ndungane
Date: Saturday, 3 March
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Kick-off: 19.10 (08.10 GMT)
Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Geoff Acton (Australia)
Television match official: Paul Marks (Australia)
Assessor: Keith Hendricks (South Africa), Wayne Erickson (Australia)
By Jan de Koning 365 Digital