Van der Merwe hits 50
The Bulls have given a Super Rugby debut to wing Sampie Mastriet for their clash with the Western Force.
In another change at the back, Lionel Mapoe moves from wing to outside centre in place of injured JJ Engelbrecht, with Mastriet at 14.
Flip van der Merwe will play his 50th Super Rugby game - six of those for the Cheetahs whilst still a student in Bloemfontein and the commerce graduate has since reeled off 43 matches for the Bulls.
The Springbok lock will again combine with Juandrè Kruger in the engine room, but it is behind them in the scrum where the most significant changes are to the team that beat the Stormers last week.
Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann picked up injuries in that win and will be replaced by Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha respectively.
Jean Cook comes into the reserves and will make his Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.
Jan Serfontein has also been named on the bench and replaces Francois Venter in the number 22 shirt.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was pleased to have Springbok experience to fall back on, but warned that it guarantees nothing against an opponent that has beaten the Bulls at Loftus before.
“Last week was last week. We are grateful for the win, but this week we face a new opponent that will post new challenges," he said.
"The Force has been a difficult opponent in the past and will again ask questions to our all round game and our defence. We have prepared well though and will be looking forward to the challenge.”
Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted that a good performance would be paramount for his side before they embark on their overseas leg of the competition.
“We cannot look past this match as it will determine the mind-set we will take onto tour. So this is a very important match for us,” he said.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Jan Serfontein.
Date: Saturday, March 2
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa),Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)