Bulls welcome back van der Merwe

Frans Ludeke has named fit-again lock Flip van der Merwe in his starting team to face the Hurricanes.

Springbok and Bulls player Flip van der Merwe. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has included fit-again lock and regular captain Flip van der Merwe in his starting side to face the Hurricanes in a Super Rugby clash in Napier on Saturday.

Van der Merwe comes into the side as one of two changes to the forward pack, taking over the captaincy and number five jersey from Victor Matfield, while Jacques Engelbrecht comes in at number eight for Dewald Potgieter, who moves to the side of the scrum.

Flanker Jacques du Plessis drops to the bench, while Matfield and loose forward Jono Ross drop out of the match day squad completely.

Bulls management has confirmed Matfield will only play on tour if injuries facilitate the need. Matfield will instead form part of the coaching team for the duration of the tour, as was decided when the lock's return to rugby was negotiated.

The Bulls departed Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon, and will only arrive in Wellington late on Wednesday night New Zealand time, giving them one training session before heading to Napier.

Speaking ahead of the team's departure, Ludeke said he would start rotating his squad to keep his players fresh for the remaining weeks of the Super Rugby campaign.

"We are looking to start rotating players from now on and with the depth we have in the squad, it is something I don't mind doing."

Bulls team to play the Hurricanes: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Jacques Engelbrecht, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Flip van der Merwe, Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe, Morné Mellett, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.