Bulls bring in their big guns
Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar has included all his returning Springboks in his matchday squad for Saturday's Currie Cup clash with the Lions in Johannesburg.
The Blue Bulls need to win, most probably with a bonus point, in order to qualify for an away semi-final spot.
Zane Kirchner, Mornè Steyn, Flip van der Merwe, Juandrè Kruger and Francois Hougaard will all play in the competition for the first time this year.
Kirchner starts at fullback, Steyn at flyhalf and Kruger and Van der Merwe are the lock pairing.
Hougaard starts as a replacement in a utility role which also allowed Pienaar the option of having five forwards on the bench.
Arno Botha, who joined the Springboks last week and missed the win over Western Province, is back at number eight and will be joined in the back-row by Jacques Potgieter, who played for the Blue Bulls in his only start three weeks ago.
Pienaar was very pleased on his selection options, but emphasised that the returning players do not guarantee success against the defending champions.
"All the teams will use their returning Springboks this weekend, so we are not in a unique or fortunate position," he said.
"We are privileged though to have guys back who really care about the daisy (badge), the team and each other.
"We had no problem with the returning players slotting back in and I really look forward to the weekend.
"It is no secret that we are in dire straits in the competition, but if ever there was players I would have nominated to help, I have just named them in the team."
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (c), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandrè Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Dean Greyling.