“Ulrich was withdrawn from the match against the Sharks for personal reasons, it was an off-field matter and we’re happy with the way the disciplinary hearing went,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said on Tuesday, without revealing any further details, although there have been suggestions the misdemeanour was alcohol-related.
The return of Beyers is one of four changes to the backline, with the Bulls welcoming back Springboks Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht and Piet van Zyl.
Engelbrecht’s campaign to get back into international rugby begins in earnest on Friday and the 25-year-old will fill the number 13 jersey left vacant by William Small-Smith’s knee injury suffered against the Sharks last weekend. With the outside centre position in the Springbok team the subject of much debate, Engelbrecht will be eager to finish the year strongly.
The Port Elizabeth-born Engelbrecht played the last of his 12 Tests in November against Scotland at Murrayfield and the time for him to impress is short, with the Bulls struggling to make the Currie Cup playoffs.
The Cheetahs are the team immediately above the Bulls on the log, five points ahead in fifth place, so the importance of victory for Frans Ludeke’s team in their third-last round-robin game is clear. And the coach has responded to the urgency by making six changes to his starting line-up, four of them in the backline.
Apart from Engelbrecht’s return, long-serving star Ndungane replaces fellow Springbok Bjorn Basson, who is yet to regain his spark after a long injury layoff, on the wing, Beyers is back at fullback in place of Kriel after being dropped for the Sharks game for disciplinary reasons, and Van Zyl will be the starting scrumhalf, rotating with Rudy Paige.
There are just two changes up front with captain Deon Stegmann returning in the number six jersey after serving a one-match suspension for elbowing an EP Kings player, and Bongi Mbonambi rotating with Callie Visagie at hooker.
Although flank Jacques du Plessis did not train on Monday due to a badly-bruised thigh, he will be fit for the Bloemfontein trip.
Ludeke said his team are still in the running for the knockout stages of the Currie Cup in October, but they need perfect execution of their game-plan from here on in.
“We’re still in the running, but talking about it doesn’t help, we have to come out and perform. Exerting pressure will be vital, it’s knockout rugby for both teams, and ball-control will be vital for us, we have to be clinical and play in the right areas.
“A bunch of things work for us – like our shift to being more dangerous from broken play, the driving maul from the lineout – we just need to get it all to come together this weekend. We need to get the crucial decisions right in this game,” Ludeke said on Tuesday.
Team: 15-Ulrich Beyers, 14-Akona Ndungane, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Burger Odendaal, 11-Sampie Mastriet, 10-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9-Piet van Zyl, 8-Jono Ross, 7-Jacques du Plessis, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Grant Hattingh, 4-Paul Willemse, 3-Werner Kruger, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Dean Greyling. Reserves – 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Morne Mellet, 18-Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19-Wiaan Liebenberg, 20-Rudy Paige, 21-Tian Schoeman, 22-Jesse Kriel.
Full report – http://citizen.co.za/247061/bulls-beyers-off-the-hook/