Vermeulen returns as Bulls ring changes

Duane Vermeulen has recovered from a knock and will lead the Vodacom Bulls in their clash with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Vermeulen sat out the Bulls’ narrow 30-23 victory over Griquas in Pretoria last weekend after head coach Jake White chose not to risk the Springbok No 8, with Arno Botha taking over as captain.

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His return is one of five personnel changes to the Bulls starting lineup, as White has decided to rotate the team following the iffy performance in their Super Rugby Unlocked opener.

Vermeulen replaces Tim Agaba, who drops out of the match-day squad entirely, in the first of two changes to the pack, with Johan Grobbelaar replacing Corniel Els at hooker as the other.

In a much-changed backline Embrose Papier rotates with Ivan van Zyl, who drops to the bench.

There is also a fresh centre combination as Clinton Swart makes his first official start for the Bulls at inside centre, with Cornal Hendricks shifting across to outside centre and Stedman Gans named as a substitute.

In the final change to the team Travis Ismaiel is left out of the match-day 23. Jade Stighling will start on the left wing, while David Kriel shifts across to take Ismaiel’s place on the right wing.

There are a couple of potential debuts on the bench as U21 star Joe van Zyl could make his first senior appearance after being named as the replacement hooker.

Nizaam Carr is also set to debut in Bulls colours after the former Stormers and Wasps loose forward missed the opener through injury.

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Springbok loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka has been ruled out of the match after injuring his calf against Griquas. His place on the bench is taken by Gerhard Steenekamp.

Bulls –  15 Gio Aplon, 14 David Kriel, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans.

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images