South Africa

Bulls boss backs Bismarck to start in URC match against Leinster

Former World Cup-winning Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis will make his Bulls debut when the Currie Cup champions take on Leinster Rugby in the United Rugby Championship opening match at Aviva Stadium, in Dublin, on Saturday.

The 37-year-old hooker is set to add to the already existing stability of the front row, where he will partner with props Mornay Smith and Gerhard Steenekamp.

In the second row, Ruan Nortje and Walt Steenkamp will make up the lock pairing, while the familiar loose trio of captain, Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha and Elrigh Louw will complete the forwards pack.

Flyhalf, Johan Goosen, returns to the starting XV for the half-back pairing with Zak Burger, while the midfield pair of Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe continue where they left off in South African domestic rugby.

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Madosh Tambwe, Cornal Hendricks and David Kriel complete the make up of the starting XV as the outside backs.

Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, said ahead of the game: “We have had some good momentum in the South African domestic scene, and we hope we can transfer that form to the URC.

“We are in for great challenge in this quality championship against competitive opposition. To have the opportunity of facing a top side like Leinster Rugby will be the perfect opportunity to measure ourselves against one of the best sides in Europe.

“We have opted for continuity in our selection, with a team that has a good blend of youth and experience. We are confident that the inclusion of Bismarck du Plessis, whose experience is invaluable, will add great value both in our play and giving some direction as a leader.”

The match will kick off at 6.15pm.

Bulls: David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe, Johan Goosen, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee (capt), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Bismarck du Plessis, Gerhard Steenekamp.

Bench: Joe van Zyl, Simphiwe Matanzima, Jacques van Rooyen, Janko Swanepoel, Jacques du Plessis, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smith, Stedman Gans

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