Cape Town – The Rebels make two changes following injuries to Mike Harris and Colby Fainga’a for their game against the Bulls.
Steve Cummins and Jack Debreczeni come in after the team’s 25-19 victory over the Western Force in last weekend’s opening round of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Cummins, who was introduced off the reserve bench midway through the second half last weekend, earns a call up to the run-on team while Debreczeni returns from a virus which sidelined him in the first round.
After being a late pre-game withdrawal against the Force, Debreczeni has proven his fitness and returns to the Rebels starting lineup while Reece Hodge, who scored 20 points in his Super Rugby debut last weekend, gets the nod at full-back.
“We’re disappointed for Mike and Colby,” Rebels coach Tony McGahan said.
“The pairs’ experience will be missed but we’re confident in the franchise’s depth and the opportunity provides another player the chance to step forward and put their hand up for selection.”
Blindside flank Sean McMahon will again lead the Rebels against the Bulls in the absence of captain Nic Stirzaker, who continues his recovery from a shoulder operation.
Lopeti Timani has moved from lock to number eight for the second game of the season while Adam Thomson, who scored in his Rebels debut last weekend, will start as the blindside flank.
Jordy Reid has been named a reserve, along with Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau, Jamie Hagan, Jonah Placid, Sam Jeffries, Mick Snowden and Dan Hawkins, who came off the bench to make his Super Rugby debut against the Force.
The Rebels are looking to break the franchise’s South African hoodoo after remaining winless from ten previous matches, including two at Loftus Versfeld against the Bulls, and record back-to-back wins to start their season for the first time.
McGahan added: “We’ve got another physical test this weekend and aren’t underestimating the immense challenge we face in playing the Bulls in Pretoria – one of the hardest trips in Super Rugby.”
Bulls v Rebels, Pretoria – 15:00
15 Warrick Gelant , 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel
15 Reece Hodge, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Sean McMahon (captain), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jonah Placid, 23 Dan Hawkins