Arno Botha takes over the captaincy with Duane Vermeulen earning a well-deserved break, while Tim Agaba steps up to the plate at the back of the scrum. Youngster WJ Steenkamp completes the exciting loose trio.

The squad sees a host of their Under-21 champion-winning team getting a first taste of senior rugby, hence the all-new and exciting front row in Jan-Hendrik Wessels and Gerhard Steenekamp (props) and Joe van Zyl (hooker). Janko Swanepoel will make his first Carling Currie Cup start at No. 5 lock making his debut off the bench a few days ago against the Xerox Lions.

A new midfield combination will also feature as Dawid Kellerman occupies the inside centre position alongside Marnus Potgieter.

Clinton Swart starts at fullback as the utility back continues to show his worth across the backline, while Jade Stighling and Stravino Jacobs continue to patrol the wings. Experienced Springboks Morné Steyn and Ivan van Zyl resume their successful halfback partnership.

The replacement bench features a nice mixture of experience and youth, with Springboks Lizo Gqoboka and Marcel van der Merwe serving as backup props while Divan Venter, Keagan Johannes and Kabelo Mokoena all set to earn their debuts when they take to the field.

Director rugby Jake White reckons the match affords the exciting youngsters a great opportunity to experience senior rugby.

“These boys have done really well on the training field and have been eagerly awaiting their opportunity, and now they get to show what they are made of on the big stage. It’s important that they get up to speed with their senior colleagues while still securing a victory in Nelspruit,” according to White.

The team:

Vodacom Bulls: 15. Clinton Swart, 14. Jade Stighling, 13. Marnus Potgieter, 12. Dawid Kellerman, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Tim Agaba, 7. Arno Botha (captain), 6. WJ Steenkamp, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 4. Jan Uys, 3. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 2. Joe van Zyl, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar, 17. Lizo Gqoboka, 18. Marcel van der Merwe, 19. Divan Venter, 20. Elrigh Louw, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Kabelo Mokoena, 23. Jay-Cee Nel. Travelling reserves: 24. Janco Uys, 25. Mornay Smith, 26. Johan Mulder.

Match information – Phakisa Pumas v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Sunday, 10 January 2021
Time: 16h00
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge and AJ Jacobs
TMO: Johan Greeff
TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels