Vodacom Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe will play in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match when his team takes on the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Van der Merwe has played six of those for the Toyota Cheetahs whilst still a student in Bloemfontein and the commerce graduate has since reeled off 43 matches for the Bulls.
The lock will again combine with Juandrè Kruger in the engine room, but is behind them in the scrum where the most significant changes are to the team that beat the DHL Stormers last weekend.
Both Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann picked up injuries in that win and will be replaced by Springboks Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha respectively.
Jean Cook comes into the reserves and will make his Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.
In another change at the back, Lionel Mapoe moves from wing to outside centre in place of injured JJ Engelbrecht, with Sampie Mastriet to make his debut on the right wing.
Jan Serfontein has also been named on the bench and replace Francois Venter in the number 22 shirt.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was pleased to have Springbok experience to fall back on, but warned that it guarantees nothing against an opponent that has beaten the Bulls at Loftus before.
“Last week was last week. We are grateful for the win, but this week we face a new opponent that will post new challenges. The Western Force has been a difficult opponent in the past and will again ask questions to our all round game and our defence. We have prepared well though and will be looking forward to the challenge.”
Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted that a good performance would be paramount for his side before they embark on their overseas leg of the competition.
“We cannot look past this match as it will determine the mind-set we will take onto tour. So this is a very important match for us,” Spies said.
The team to play the Western Force (with Super caps) is: Zane Kirchner (72), Sampie Mastriet (0), Lionel Mapoe (29), Wynand Olivier (104), Bjorn Basson (43), Mornè Steyn (107), Francois Hougaard (46), Pierre Spies (90, c), Arno Botha (11), Jacques Potgieter (13), Juandrè Kruger (18), Flip van der Merwe (49), Werner Kruger (76), Chiliboy Ralepelle (53), Mornè Mellett (1). Replacements: Willie Wepener (54), Frik Kirsten (16), Grant Hattingh (10), Jean Cook (0), Jano Vermaak (89), Louis Fouchè (10), Jan Serfontein (0).
•Flip van der Merwe will play in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match. He represented the Toyota Cheetahs in six of those and the Vodacom Bulls in 43. He has scored three tries, two in the Bulls jersey.
•Mornè Steyn continue to extend his points record in the competition. He has now scored 1221 points (11t, 211c, 224p, 24dg), all of which is South African records.
•Wynand Olivier will play in his 104 match for the Vodacom Bulls, making him the most experienced South African midfielder in Super Rugby. He has also scored 29 tries, the most in the squad.