Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard will captain the Bulls against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.
Pollard takes over the leadership reigns from centre Burger Odendaal, who was not considered due to injury.
However, the Bulls have been boosted by the return of wing Jamba Ulengo, No 8 Hanro Liebenberg and flank Jannes Kirsten. Ulengo and Kirsten have not played at all in this year’s Super Rugby tournament, while Liebenberg’s last game was against the Sharks in April.
Johnny Kotze will partner Jesse Kriel in Odendaal’s absence, with new Bok Embrose Papier, who last started for the Bulls against the Crusaders in March, wearing the No 9 jersey.
Simpiwe Matanzima and Morné Smith are set to earn their Super Rugby debuts off the bench, while Edgar Marutlulle could make his first appearance for the Bulls this season.
Former Bok hooker Adriaan Strauss, who announced on Tuesday that he would retire after the tournament, is not in the match 23.
‘We had a good break, but also had some time together to sort out elements in our play that lacked consistency,’ said Bulls coach John Mitchell.
‘The Sunwolves are always dangerous, especially on home turf and we will have to be very principled in our approach and execution if we want to stay in the contest.’
Pollard said the Bulls needed to find their momentum and rhythm as soon as possible.
‘We have not played together as a team for a while, but that should not be a problem for us. We know each other pretty well by now and even the guys coming back after injury have played in the tournament before.
‘It will be a challenge, as the Sunwolves have shown their competitiveness in the competition, but ultimately the onus will be on us and how badly we want the win. There is still an outside chance [that the Bulls could reach the quarter-finals], so we cannot afford any mistakes.’
Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman,4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Morné Smith, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 André Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dries Swanepoel.
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images