Boost for the Bulls as Pollard returns to face the Highlanders in Dunedin
The Bulls have received a massive boost for their crucial Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin with inspirational captain Handré Pollard returning to the starting line-up.
The Springboks pivot missed the last two matches of their Australasia tour due to a calf injury last month‚ but he has been declared fit to reclaim the armband and his regular place at flyhalf .
He returns to the team to find a much-changed backline from the one that drew against the Blues a week ago with Divan Rossouw in for Warrick Gelant and Dylan Sage in for Rosko Specman‚
Pollard replaces highly rated Manie Libbok.
Looking ahead to his first competitive match in more than two weeks‚ Pollard said he is keen to get back onto the field and help the Bulls end their tour on a winning note.
“The short break was great and I am happy to be back‚” he said from their base in New Zealand where they are preparing for the clash.
“This is a great venue to play at and we are determined to make our visit a productive one.
"We last won here in 2007‚ so it is about time we change that.”
In some of the other changes to the team‚ coach Pote Human has recalled Embrose Papier to partner Pollard at halfback in a move that sees Ivan van Zyl dropped to the bench and Andre Warner missing out.
The loose trio that finished the game against the Blues will start against the Highlanders with Marco van Staden at no 8 in place of injured Paul Schoeman‚ and Hanro Liebenberg and Ruan Steenkamp on the side of the scrum.
The tight five remains intact and Johan Grobbelaar comes on the bench as a loose forward.
Human said the tour provided some good results‚ but it can only be seen a successful one if they get the desired outcome against the Highlanders.
“This is going to be very tough for us‚ but this group thrives on challenges‚" he said.
"I think they last lost to a team from outside New Zealand in 2016‚ so we need to be at our very best if we want to change that statistic.”
Highlanders: 15 Josh McKay‚ 14 Waisake Naholo‚ 13 Rob Thompson‚ 12 Sio Tomkinson‚ 11 Tevita Li‚ 10 Josh Ioane‚ 9 Aaron Smith‚ 8 Luke Whitelock (captain)‚ 7 James Lentjes‚ 6 Liam Squire‚ 5 Tom Franklin‚ 4 Jackson Hemopo‚ 3 Tyrel Lomax‚ 2 Liam Coltman‚ 1 Ayden Johnstone
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon‚ 17 Sef Fa'agase‚ 18 Siate Tokolahi‚ 19 Joshua Dickson‚ 20 Shannon Frizell‚ 21 Kayne Hammington‚ 22 Marty Banks‚ 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen
Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw ‚ 14 Cornal Hendricks‚ 13 Dylan Sage‚ 12 Burger Odendaal‚ 11 Johnny Kotze‚ 10 Handre Pollard (captain) ‚ 9 Embrose Papier‚ 8 Marco van Staden‚ 7 Hanro Liebenberg‚ 6 Ruan Steenkamp‚ 5 RG Snyman‚ 4 Jason Jenkins‚ 3 Trevor Nyakane‚ 2 Schalk Brits‚ 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie‚ 17 Simphiwe Matanzima‚ 18 Wiehahn Herbst‚ 19 Jannes Kirsten‚ 20 Johan Grobbelaar‚ 21 Ivan van Zyl‚ 22 Manie Libbok‚ 23 JT Jackson