Veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn has been left out of the Bulls squad for the Super Rugby Unlocked match against the Pumas because of Covid protocols.
“The rest of the squad all tested negative, but Morne is asymptomatic and out of the group,” explained director of rugby at the Bulls, Jake White.
“We are not going to risk him; we could have tested him again on Friday but we will not take that gamble,” said White, who explained that Steyn was at his child’s christening last Sunday where he came into contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid.
Chris Smith, the former Maties No 10, will start in the No 10 jersey against the Pumas.
While there had been doubts about the game being played this weekend because the Pumas players had been struck down by Covid last week, White said his understanding was that the match would go ahead.
“The Pumas have been training with a full-strength squad the whole week. The guys who were on the fence who were in close contact with the isolated cases, will get tested again on Thursday,” said White.
“The game is on and it just depends whether they will have access to the players who were in isolation, or whether they will sit on the bench. They have at least 23 fit players to come to Loftus on Saturday.”
Apart from Smith, Arno Botha comes into the side at blindside flank for the injured Elrigh Louw, while at hooker Corniel Els replaces the also-injured Johan Grobbelaar.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 2pm.
Bulls: David Kriel, Travis Ismaiel, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Ivan van Zyl, Duane Vermeulen (capt), Arno Botha, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, 3. Trevor Nyakane, Corniel Els, Jacques van Rooyen. Bench: Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp, Marcel van der Merwe, Sintu Manjezi, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Clinton Swart, Marco Jansen van Vuren.