Johan Goosen returns for Bulls as they face in-form Benneton

Johan Goosen returns for Bulls as they face in-form Benneton

The Bulls have been bolstered by the return of Johan Goosen from suspension for their crucial United Rugby Championship match against Benneton on Saturday. 

The flyhalf returns to action as the Tshwane-based outfit sets its eyes on securing a home-ground advantage for the URC playoffs.

Jake White's herd welcomes the Italian outfit fresh off a win over the Sharks for a Saturday 18 May date with kick-off set for 14:00.

White has also added Keagan Johannes (scrumhalf) and Sebastian de Klerk (utility back) to the matchday 23 the duo will come off the impact squad alongside Chris Smith who shuffles to jersey 22 in Goosen's return.

Elsewhere, the squad remains unchanged with an identical forward and backline as the one that did duty in the Kids Round.

Gerhard Steenekamp (loose-head), Akker van der Merwe (hooker) and Wilco Louw (tight-head) are at front row, whilst the Ruans (Vermaak and Nortje) combine at lock with Marco van Staden lining up at blind-side and Elrigh Louw on the openside with Cameron Hanekom at eight.

Scrumhalf Embrose Papier pairs up with Goosen at halfback whilst Harold Vorster and David Kriel combine once more at centre. The explosive back three of Kurt-Lee Arendse (left wing), Willie Le Roux (fullback) and Canan Moodie (right wing) has been retained.

The Bulls have opted for a five-three split impact squad which sees Johan Grobbelaar, Francois Klopper, Simphiwe Matanzima, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Johannes, Smith and De Klerk all complete the 23 men reporting for duty.

White says the league is exciting and highly competitive as it enters the business end.

"This weekend has so many permutations still. We could win and still remain in fourth. That is what's nice about the competition, it all goes down to the final weekend."

On Goosen's return: "It's nice to have a guy like Johan return because you know what he offers. Saying all of that, Chris (Smith) is also highly rated in our fold, he is not flashy and very consistent and so that makes for nice competition for the jersey."

On the opponents this weekend, the Bulls mentor says they are not underestimating the Italians.

"They are seasoned internationals who have played for Italy and did well against England. They beat the sharks last week in Durban with a good team, nothing makeshift," he added.

"They deserve to be in the top eight as they currently are now and they beat us in the Rainbow Cup a few years ago. There is no reason for us to underestimate them. They have done well, recruited well and their season has been good and they have beaten some good teams as well."

Bulls - 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp

Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Sebastian de Klerk

READ MORE: Jake White says World Rugby's new scrum rules aim to protect young players