Handre Pollard. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Handre Pollard. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

The Bulls have received a huge boost for their crucial Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday with inspirational captain Handré Pollard returning to the starting line-up.

The Springbok pivot missed the last two matches of the Bulls’ Australasia tour due to a calf injury‚ but he has been declared fit to reclaim the armband and his regular place at flyhalf.

He returns to the team to find a much-changed backline from the one that drew with the Blues a week ago with Divan Rossouw in for Warrick Gelant and Dylan Sage in for Rosko Specman. Pollard replaces highly rated Manie Libbok.

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Pollard said he is keen to get back on to the field and help the Bulls end their tour on a winning note.

“The short break was great and I am happy to be back‚” he said from their base in New Zealand. “This is a great venue and we are determined to make our visit a productive one. We last won here in 2007‚ so it is about time we change that.”

In some of the other changes to the team‚ coach Pote Human has recalled Embrose Papier to partner Pollard at halfback in a move that sees Ivan van Zyl dropped to the bench and Andre Warner missing out.

The loose trio that finished the game against the Blues will start against the Highlander,s with Marco van Staden at No8 in place of injured Paul Schoeman‚ and Hanro Liebenberg and Ruan Steenkamp on the side of the scrum.

The tight five remains intact and Johan Grobbelaar is on the bench as a loose forward.

Human said the tour provided some good results‚ but it can only be seen a successful one if they get the desired outcome against the Highlanders.

“This is going to be very tough for us‚ but this group thrives on challenges‚” he said. “I think the Highlanders last lost to a team from outside New Zealand in 2016‚ so we need to be at our very best if we want to change that statistic.”

Highlanders: 15 Josh McKay‚ 14 Waisake Naholo‚ 13 Rob Thompson‚ 12 Sio Tomkinson‚ 11 Tevita Li‚ 10 Josh Ioane‚ 9 Aaron Smith‚ 8 Luke Whitelock (captain)‚ 7 James Lentjes‚ 6 Liam Squire‚ 5 Tom Franklin‚ 4 Jackson Hemopo‚ 3 Tyrel Lomax‚ 2 Liam Coltman‚ 1 Ayden Johnstone. Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon‚ 17 Sef Fa’agase‚ 18 Siate Tokolahi‚ 19 Joshua Dickson‚ 20 Shannon Frizell‚ 21 Kayne Hammington‚ 22 Marty Banks‚ 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen

Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw ‚ 14 Cornal Hendricks‚ 13 Dylan Sage‚ 12 Burger Odendaal‚ 11 Johnny Kotze‚ 10 Handre Pollard (captain) ‚ 9 Embrose Papier‚ 8 Marco van Staden‚ 7 Hanro Liebenberg‚ 6 Ruan Steenkamp‚ 5 RG Snyman‚ 4 Jason Jenkins‚ 3 Trevor Nyakane‚ 2 Schalk Brits‚ 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie‚ 17 Simphiwe Matanzima‚ 18 Wiehahn Herbst‚ 19 Jannes Kirsten‚ 20 Johan Grobbelaar‚ 21 Ivan van Zyl‚ 22 Manie Libbok‚ 23 JT Jackson