Ruan Vermaak set to return for Bulls' Champions Cup opener against Saracens

Ruan Vermaak set to return for Bulls' Champions Cup opener against Saracens

Lock forward Ruan Vermaak will make his return to action for the Bulls when they begin their 2023/24 Champions Cup campaign against three-time champions Saracens.

The clubs will meet for the first time at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday evening in what should be a very memorable opening encounter between the two domestic powerhouses.

Vermaak will start at lock alongside fellow former Junior Springbok Reinhardt Ludwig. In front of the lock pairing will be a front row comprising of Gerhard Steenekamp, Akker van der Merwe and Wilco Louw.

The back-row combination of Marco van Staden, Elrigh Louw and Cameron Hanekom remains unchanged from last week's United Rugby Championship win over the Sharks. Louw will once again lead the Bulls when they step into the fortress against the English giants.

The impeccable forward pack will lay the foundation for a backline that begins with scrumhalf Embrose Papier and flyhalf Johan Goosen at halfback, with David Kriel and Stedman Gans behind them in the centre pairing.

Springbok trio Canan Moodie, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Willie le Roux form a formidable and deadly back three.

Club co-captain Marcell Coetzee returns from serving his suspension and will form part of a five-three bench that also features forwards Simphiwe Matanzima, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Mornay Smith and Janko Swanepoel as well as backs Zak Burger, Jaco van der Walt and Sergeal Petersen, who returns to the matchday 23-fold.

Tickets for the blockbuster start from R50 and gates will open at 16h30 with an exciting serving of entertainment at the Loftus D-Market for the whole family.

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

Replacements: 16 Simphiwe Matanzima, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Sergeal Petersen.

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