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Super Rugby: Bulls v Brumbies preview
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The Bulls will welcome back captain Flip van der Merwe for Friday's Super Rugby clas against the Brumbies in Pretoria.
The lock's return is one of three changes to the side that beat the Stormers two weeks ago.
Werner Kruger comes in at tight-head prop for Marcel van der Merwe, while Jacques-Louis Potgieter takes the number ten jersey with Handre Pollard dropping to the bench.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke welcomed Van der Merwe back into the fold for an important game against the second placed Brumbies.
"Flip's leadership is very important to the team and as a senior player he does set an excellent example," Ludeke told the clubs official website.
"We will need to be at our best in facing a Brumbies side that has played some great rugby this year. We have made slight changes for the match and rotated certain players and I believe we will be competitive come Friday."
Van der Merwe has high hopes for the game and the possibility of securing a play-off spot with five games remaining.
"We are well rested following a bye last week and we trained well this week. It is important to start the match with a lot of energy and I believe everyone will do so," Van der Merwe said.
"We don't look ahead in the competition, but know how important a win will be with regards to a possible play-off spot."
Leon Power returns to the Brumbies' starting XV after recovering from a knee strain.
Power is included at lock and Scott Fardy switches to blindside flanker, while Fotu Auelua and Jordan Smiler come onto the bench and Tom McVerry drops out of the match-day squad.
Bulls: 15 Visser, 14 Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Serfontein, 11 Basson, 10 Potgieter, 9 Hougaard; 1 Greyling, 2 Visagie, 3 Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe (capt), 5 Matfield, 6 Ross, 7 Du Plessis, 8 Hattingh
Replacements: 16 Mbonambi, 17 Mellett, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Pollard, 23 Beyers
Brumbies: 15 Mogg, 14 Speight, 13 Kuridrani, 12 Lealiifano, 11 Coleman, 10 Toomua, 9 White; 1 Sio, 2 Moore, 3 Alexander, 4 Power, 5 Carter, 6 Fardy, 7 Butler, 8 Mowen (capt)
Replacements: 16 Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Auelua, 20 Smiler, 21 Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 McCabe
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com