Liebenberg starts for Kirsten in Currie Cup against Lions

Arno Botha comes into the starting line up

Three former Junior Springbok captains will combine on Friday as the Blue Bulls loose trio when they take on the Golden Lions in a Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld.

Hanro Liebenberg (2015), Ruan Steenkamp (2013) and Arno Botha (2011) will pack behind a tight five that sees one change from last weekend’s match against the Cell C Sharks.

Pierre Schoeman will start at loosehead in place of Lizo Gqoboka, will Liebenberg comes in for injured Jannes Kirsten.

Liebenberg started on the bench in the Durban defeat, but with Kirsten (AC joint) out, Botha moves to the side of the scrum and Liebenberg starts at no8.

His place on the bench will be taken by Roelof Smit, who has also recovered from injury.

Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais did not change too much to his team that came within a whisker of drawing the match in Durban against the undefeated Sharks, with the same starting backline running out.

“We are back at Loftus Versfeld, so have no excuses. We play our best rugby here and enjoy massive support,” Marais said.

“The Golden Lions fans will remind us that we lost here last time we played and that is a good dose of reality. We have not been at our best and still need to put an 80 minutes effort this season. This is an ideal opportunity to do it against the defending champions. We could not ask for a bigger challenge.”

Botha pointed to the strong second half performance.

“We started well, then lapsed and finished well. That is what we need to improve on, especially against the Lions, who play such a high-paced game. We need to play to our strengths and our speed and for that, we need to control possession and territory.”

Blue Bulls

Duncan Matthews, Travis Ismaiel, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Tian Schoeman, Piet van Zyl, Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha (c), Ruan Steenkamp, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman.

Replacements: Bandise Maku, Martin Dreyer, Nic de Jager, Roelof Smit, Andre Warner, Joshua Stander, Ulrich Beyers.

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