• Hougaard wings it for Bulls

    Francois Hougaard will start on the left wing in Friday's match against the Rebels, while SA U20 star Jesse Kriel is set to make his Super Rugby debut from the bench.

    Hougaard moves from scrumhalf to wing for the Bulls' last match of the season. This allows Piet van Zyl, another Springbok, to slot in at No 9.

    Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made a number of other changes. Jürgen Visser, who was a late withdrawal from last week's game against the Stormers, is back at No 15. Hougaard's move to the left wing sees Bjorn Basson shifting to the right.

    Ludeke has opted for an entirely new front row following the Bulls' abject scrum performance at Newlands. Morné Mellet, Bandise Maku, and Marcel van der Merwe will be expected to lift the standard at the set piece.

    Grant Hattingh's injury has forced a reshuffle in the back row. Roelof Smit will start for the first time at openside flank, while Jono Ross will move to the blindside and Jacques Engelbrecht to No 8.

    Kriel, who enjoyed an outstanding Junior World Championship campaign, has been included on the bench.

    'We have nothing to lose, so [we] decided to give some youngsters a run. Injury also played a role in team selection. We want to end the season well and although our final log position will not be where we wanted, there is no reason why we cannot close out our campaign with a fine performance,' Ludeke said.

    Ludeke will become the most experienced coach in Super Rugby this weekend, as it will be his 132nd match at the helm (108 for the Bulls, and 23 for the Cats). Bulls captain Victor Matfield will break yet another record this Friday when he leads the Bulls for the 82nd time.

    Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Morné Mellet.
    Subs: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Dean Greyling, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Marvin Orie, 21 Jesse Kriel, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 William Small-Smith.

    Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

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    Jon Cardinelli