Spies switches to 8

Former wing Pierre Spies will start as No 8 when the Bully Boys continue their Super 14 preparations in two warm-up fixtures against the Cats at Ellis Park tomorrow.

Spies, who began last year’s campaign as one of the most promising finishers in the country, has sufficient bulk and presence to convert back into a back rower. Coach Heyneke Meyer is hopeful his immense speed will add a dimension to the sometimes ponderous Bulls loose forwards.

The most interesting comparison remains, however, in the backline. Morne Steyn and Derick Hougaard will again square off for the right to be named first choice pivot, with Steyn having lost ground after a disastrous display in the Currie Cup final defeat to the Cheetahs last year.

Overanalysis of combinations so early on in preparations is premature. With such a demanding competition ahead, Meyer’s primary focus will be to explore the combinations he may have to fall back on should injury strike.

Bulls sides to play the Cats

Bulls 1: Willem Slabbert; Akona Ndungane, Rudi Coetzee, Riaan van den Bergh, John Mametsa; Morne Steyn, Neil Powell; Pierre Spies, Pedrie Wannenburg, Johan Wasserman (c), Francois van Schouwenburg, Adriaan Fondse, Danie Thiart, Kobus van der Walt/ Chilliboy Ralepelle, Harry Vermaas

Bulls 2: Marius Delport, Danwel Demas, JP Nel, Dries Scholtz, Trompie Nontshinga; Derick Hougaard, Heini Adams/Fourie du Preez; Jacques Cronje, Danie Rossouw, Tim Dlulane, Victor Matfield (c)/ Cliff Milton, Bakkies Botha, Andries Human, Adriaan Strauss, Jaco Engels