Cape Town — Chris Smith has been brought back at flyhalf in place of Johan Goosen by Bulls coach Jake White for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash against the Glasgow Warriors (8.35pm SA time kickoff).
Goosen started in the No 10 jersey in last week’s 28-14 win over Connacht at Loftus Versfeld, having begun his comeback from a long-term knee injury at fullback against Edinburgh a week earlier.
But the former Cheetahs star, who is in line for a Springbok recall for the end-of-year tour to Europe, missed out on the match-23 announced by White on Friday, with the consistent Smith handed the playmaker reins.
“I’m not going to risk him (Goosen) on a 4G pitch. The reality is that no Test match that’s in Tier One nations is on a 4G pitch for a reason,” White said during the team announcement press conference.
“He got injured on that sort of surface, and I just feel from a player welfare point of view – and the fact that he’s come back from an horrific injury and being out for 11 months – I just don’t feel like we should risk playing him on a 4G pitch.
“But in saying that, I’ve got confidence in Chris and Morné (Steyn). They have been with us since I got here, and they know how we want to play and have done exceptionally well in times that I’ve called on them.
“It might be (a mental thing for Goosen on a 4G pitch), but just for me, I’m not asking him whether he thinks it’s okay – I am taking a decision on my own.
“I just don’t feel that I want to risk a guy on a 4G pitch when I know that’s a kind of surface… Firstly, that’s where he got injured, that sort of surface. But also, if you look at the history and the records, there are a lot of guys who get those sorts of injuries on that pitch.
“And with him having come back from 11 months out, it’s not something I want to do – I don’t want to take that risk.”
The injury-enforced absence of Boks speedsters Canan Moodie and Sbu Nkosi sees veteran Cornal Hendricks move into the No 14 jersey, while Stedman Gans gets a start at left wing, with Lionel Mapoe coming in at outside centre.
The only change in the pack is at hooker, where Jan-Hendrik Wessels is at No 2 in place of the injured Johan Grobbelaar.
Bismarck du Plessis, Morné Steyn and Wandisile Simelane are the new faces on the bench.
“I am very happy with how the guys have trained this week in tricky weather conditions. We are in a good space as a team, and have the wonderful opportunity to go out there against Glasgow and do what we need to do. Continuing to build on the momentum we already have from this campaign,” White said in a statement.
“It is still early days in this new campaign, but if we continue to do the basics right week-in and week-out, everything else will also fall into place.”
15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Cornal Hendricks 13 Lionel Mapoe 12 David Kriel 11 Stedman Gans 10 Chris Smith 9 Zak Burger 8 Elrigh Louw 7 Marco van Staden 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain) 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Francois Klopper 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Mornay Smith 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 Reinhardt Ludwig 21 Embrose Papier 22 Morné Steyn 23 Wandisile Simelane.