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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Burger Odendaal © Gallo Images

Odendaal returns for Bulls

Captain Burger Odendaal returns to the starting line-up as the Vodacom Bulls made four changes from the team that lost to the Reds for Friday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Odendaal, who missed the start of the season with a rib injury, has been rested for the first week of the tour to ensure he will be ready for the two matches in New Zealand. After trying two different inside centres in two different weeks, the Bulls return to their original plan, with their captain leading them from the front.

Tighthead Frans van Wyk has had a number of games through the pre-season, and in the opening three rounds for the Bulls, and has been rested, meaning Springbok Trevor Nyakane will start in the three jersey for the first time after making an appearance as a substitute last week. Conraad van Vuuren is on the bench as back-up.

On the wing Divan Rossouw comes back into the side for Duncan Matthews, mainly because of his left foot that the Bulls want to use on attack, while the injury to Nic de Jager means that Handro Liebenberg moves to No 8, while Thembelani Bholi is back in at the side of the scrum.

Coach John Mitchell said he expected a fast game from his opposition but said the team were ready for the challenge.

“The game will be extremely fast, the Chiefs were very physical and they are very fast post tackle and around the breakdown. The Chiefs are the best in slowing the ball down in the competition, whether its legal or not. It is always a strength of theirs and we need to match it with the same level of intensity,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell may be returning to his home town, but that isn’t what concerns him. The coach deflected the question to rather the fact that the Bulls need to meet the mental intensity that playing in New Zealand brings.

“As you get older you tend not to worry about that type of stuff. It is nice to see family and friends and familiar places. Our focus and my focus is that our preparation is correct and we go into the game with the right mindset. It is important to understand that if you come and play in New Zealand it is not as much physical but more mental. We need to have our focus in the right areas and we are going to have to be able to go for 100 minutes and be as accurate as we can.”

Vodacom Bulls:Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Divan Rossouw, Handre Pollard, Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg, Thembelani Bholi, Roelof Smit, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, Jason Jenkins/Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Johnny Kotze.


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