Matfield starts for Bulls

Veteran lock Victor Matfield will make his 127th Super Rugby appearance against the Lions.

Lock Victor Matfield will make his first start after coming out of retirement. Picture: Facebook.com.

CAPE TOWN - Victor Matfield will make his first start for the Bulls since coming out of retirement when the Pretoria side takes on the Lions at Loftus on Saturday.

Matfield will make his 127th Super Rugby appearance, extending his record as the most capped South African Super Rugby player.

Fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter joins Matfield as one of four changes made to the starting side that came up short in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs last weekend, with loose forward Grant Hattingh and prop Frik Kirsten the others to earn a start on the weekend.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes the changes in personnel will invigorate his side.

"It is still early in the competition, but we have to be honest with ourselves. We cannot afford a repeat of the first two weekends, where we were lethargic and inaccurate in our set plays. The Lions are high on confidence, so we need not only to start well, but play with belief and commitment."

Ludeke backed his team selections.

"Jacques-Louis has 42 Super Rugby caps under his belt and needs to show that for us, while we expect Victor to bring composure and calm to our set piece. I am excited to see Grant at number eight. He is a true footballer and reads the plays very well."

Lock Flip van der Merwe, who took over the Bulls captaincy from the injured Pierre Spies last week, is well aware of the threat posed by the Lions.

"This will be our first home game of the season and we are pleased about it after two difficult weekends in Durban and Bloemfontein. We are facing a rampant Lions team who are playing with passion, skill and precision. We need to match them in those areas if we want to record our first win of the tournament."

Bulls team to face the Lions : Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe, Frik Kirsten, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling.

Replacements : Bongi Mbonambi, Werner Kruger, Marcel van der Merwe, Paul Willemse, Jacques Engelbrecht, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.