SA latest – Bekker back, Bash still sidelined

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Bekker back, Bash still sidelined – Andries Bekker will start against the Bulls but Peter Grant won’t be risked because of injury.

Bekker replaces Anton van Zyl in the second row, while the other change sees Deon Fourie starting at hooker. Dewaldt Duvenage is back from injury but will only feature from a bench that will see a 5/2 split. Both Frans Malherbe and Stephen Kitshoff are included among the reserves.

Grant didn’t run with the rest of the team at Wednesday’s session but has made progress with his ankle injury.

Stormers – 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Subs: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Stephen Kitshoff, 19 Anton van Zyl, 21 Nick Koster, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Juan de Jongh.

Bakkies, Du Preez ruled out – Bakkies Botha (knee) and Fourie du Preez (knee) will miss the Bulls’ crucial clash with the Stormers this Saturday.

Botha missed training on Tuesday and it’s been decided that he needs more time to recover from his injury. Unless the Bulls play the Stormers in the play-offs, Botha has played his last north-south derby, as he will take up a contract with French club Toulon after the World Cup.

Du Preez has been running at training but the Bulls have confirmed that he won’t be considered. The Bok scrumhalf tore ligaments in his knee three weeks ago and so the Bulls will not be rushing him back until he is ready.

Botha will be replaced by Danie Rossouw at lock while Francois Hougaard will continue to start at scrumhalf.

Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Derick Kuün, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Stephan Dippenaar.

Alberts concern for Sharks – Willem Alberts is still battling a shoulder injury and could miss the Sharks’ must-win match against the Lions.

Alberts hurt his shoulder in last week’s game against the Cheetahs, and will face a late fitness test to determine his availability. Jannie du Plessis (knee) is another Sharks player in doubt for Saturday’s game.

Coach John Plumtree has confirmed that Odwa Ndungane (hand) will definitely miss out.

Meanwhile, centre Riaan Swanepoel has struck a short-term deal with French club Clermont. The 25-year-old will provide backline cover with France’s Aurelien Rougerie and Italy’s Gonzalo Canale set to attend the World Cup later this season. Swanepoel will play for Clermont from 11 July to 30 October.