Pollard at centre for Blue Bulls against WP

The Blue Bulls have named their team to play Western Province in their Currie Cup Semi-final at Newlands in Cape Town with Handre Pollard starting at centre.

Pollard has replaced injured Burger Odendaal for the match at Newlands in one of two backline changes made by coach Frans Ludeke.

In the other, Rudy Paige will start at scrumhalf, with Piet van Zyl playing off the bench.

Pollard came off the bench in the final Currie Cup league match against Griquas last weekend and his place amongst the reserves will be taken by Sampie Mastriet.

In the pack, Ludeke rotated Marcel van der Merwe and Werner Kruger, with the latter starting at Newlands.

Ludeke has no issues with the Springbok pivot playing at inside centre.

“It was easy to slot in Handre at 12 where he played a lot of his rugby last year. He fitted in nicely and we are expecting a special effort from him, but this will not be won by individuals, but in a mighty team effort.”

Ludeke admitted travelling to Cape Town as the underdog.

“WP must be favourites and rightly so. They have played great rugby this season and deservedly are hosting a semi-final. We lost to them twice in this competition so are under no illusion on the magnitude of our challenge. All that said, we are certainly not travelling down south to go and surrender. We are going down there to win the match and get into the final. That was what this group has worked for very hard this season,” Ludeke said.

Blue Bulls captain Deon Stegmann confirmed his side’s determination.

“We were very slow out of the blocks, but I think we are in a good place now. We are improving every week and as you know, in knock-out rugby anything can happen. We need to play to our strengths and make sure we don’t give away silly possession for them to counter-attack. I am happy that we our first phase game is good and if we execute well, we will ask questions of their defence. It is going to be a great game and we are all excited to give it our best go.”

Blue Bulls

Ulrich Beyers, Akona Ndungane, William Small-Smith, Handre Pollard, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Rudy Paige, Jono Ross, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann (c), Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Bongo Mbonambi, Dean Greyling.

Replacements: Callie Visagie, Marcel van der Merwe, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Wiaan Liebenberg, Piet van Zyl, Sampie Mastriet, Jesse Kriel.

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