Cape Town - Blues coach Leon MacDonald has named his team to tackle the Bulls in a Super Rugby clash in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Blues mentor has taken the sizeable Bulls pack, the rarefied airs at 1.3km above sea level as well as the rock-hard Loftus Versfeld surface that will promote running rugby into account with his selection.
The 2.02m lock Jacob Pierce earns his third cap and first start of the season alongside captain Patrick Tuipulotu in the second row, which allows the 1.98m Tom Robinson to move to his preferred loose forward role and present a sizeable lineout. He joins combative USA World Cup flanker Tony Lamborn and in-form No 8 Hoskins Sotutu.
Otere Black has recovered from a pre-season injury to take his place at flyhalf, allowing Harry Plummer his first chance in the midfield, while Stephen Perofeta impressed sufficiently when moved back to fullback last week to get a start in that role.
It means the Blues have three kicking options and some outstanding attacking flare, including Emoni Narawa, who starts on the right wing after three caps off the bench. Both Plummer and Perofeta will earn their blazer games for 20 games for the Blues.
There is a powerful look to the bench with lively hooker Kurt Eklund, All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi and Dalton Papalii, a potential debut for aggressive lock Aaron Carroll, and the experience of TJ Faiane and Matt Duffie.
Rieko Ioane, who has made a speedy recovery from a minor fracture in his hand, was not considered but is hopeful if being available next week.
Saturday's clash kicks off at 17:15.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Wian Vosloo, 6 Jeandre Rudolph, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes:16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenkamp, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Ruan Steenkamp 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw
15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Jacob Pierce, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Aaron Carroll, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Sam Nock, 22 TJ Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie
Set those alarms Blues whanau! Here’s your team to play the Bulls!— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) February 20, 2020
??: Sunday 23 Feb
??: Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria#BluesAllDay #WhateverItTakes #BULvBLU pic.twitter.com/AbSU9FeJGA