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Jake White picks ‘Bulls B’ team for Loftus Champions Cup debut against Lyon

Cape Town – Bulls coach Jake White has rolled the dice and picked a virtual B team for Saturday’s Champions Cup debut against Lyon at Loftus Versfeld (7.30pm kickoff).

There wasn’t one first-choice player from the starting line-up for last week’s 45-9 URC thrashing of Cardiff in the entire match-23 for the Lyon clash, with veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn captaining the side as the likes of Springboks Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Johan Goosen have been rested.

While all coaches have to juggle their squads between the two competitions in order to field competitive teams every week, it is clear that White has identified next Saturday’s Champions Cup showdown against Exeter Chiefs in England as the far tougher outing.

Nevertheless, it is still an exciting squad that will take on Lyon, with Wandisile Simelane looking to kick-start his new path as a fullback, while Stedman Gans and Marco Jansen van Vuren will try to unlock the opposition defence with ball-in-hand in midfield.

The pack of forwards has a more grizzled look about it, with a highly experienced front row of Dylan Smith, Bismarck du Plessis and Jacques van Rooyen leading the scrum effort.

Bok loose forward Nizaam Carr was the Man of the Match in his comeback to Loftus against the Ospreys a few weeks ago, and will be required to guide fellow loose forwards WJ Steenkamp and Muller Uys.

But the Bulls may face a bit of a challenge to secure their lineouts, as locks Jacques du Plessis and Reinhardt Ludwig have not played much rugby over the last 12 months.

On the bench, Lizo Gqoboka makes his comeback from injury and will earn his 100th Bulls cap, while scrumhalf Keagan Johannes can provide some spark on attack in the second half.

Bulls Team

15 Wandisile Simelane 14 Sibongile Novuka 13 Stedman Gans 12 Marco Jansen van Vuren 11 Stravino Jacobs 10 Morné Steyn (captain) 9 Bernard van der Linde 8 Muller Uys 7 WJ Steenkamp 6 Nizaam Carr 5 Reinhardt Ludwig 4 Jacques du Plessis 3 Jacques van Rooyen 2 Bismarck du Plessis 1 Dylan Smith.

Bench: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 17 Lizo Gqoboka 18 Sebastian Lombard 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 Phumzile Maqondwana 21 Keagan Johannes 22 Chris Barend Smith 23 Juan Mostert.