Return of the Schalk!
Schalk Burger (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Defending champions Western Province have received a big boost ahead of Friday evening's Currie Cup away clash against the Free State Cheetahs with the return of fit-again forwards Deon Fourie and Schalk Burger
Fourie returns from a two-week lay-off with a rib injury and will resume the captaincy and once again wear the No.6 jersey, whilst Springbok star Burger will make his comeback via the bench, having been out of action for 18 months with a series of injuries.
The return of Fourie is one of three changes to the WP starting line-up that beat Griquas 19-13 last week, with Burger's return seeing coach Allister Coetzee
opt for a five-two split amongst his substitutes.
The other changes to the Province starting team for this week see Michael Rhodes
start at No 7 (in place of WP Under-21 star Rayn Smid) and Michael van der Spuy will wear the No 13 jersey in the absence of Springbok squad member Juan de Jongh.
WP Under-21 captain Josh Katzen, meanwhile, retains his place on the bench after his bright second-half cameo against Griquas, with Smid and Rohan Kitshoff the unfortunate loose forwards to miss out on selection this week.
"We're fortunate to welcome back Deon Fourie, Michael Rhodes
and Schalk Burger this week - it would be a boost for any team to have players of their quality slot back in," WP coach Allister Coetzee
"I don't think Schalk will get more than 20 minutes on Friday, but it's all part of his comeback (introducing him from the bench) and we will see how we can use him and how he goes.
"He's looked sharp at training, and there are bound to be a few timing issues, but we all look forward to seeing how he goes.
"There is bound to be plenty of focus on Schalk's return, but, for us, it's about going to Bloemfontein and picking up the points for the sake of the team and our 2013 Currie Cup campaign," added Coetzee.
"The Cheetahs are a tough side, especially in Bloemfontein, and we will need to make a vast improvement on last week's performance to come home with a win."
Friday's match at the Free State Stadium kicks-off at 17:05.Teams:Free State Cheetahs:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Piet Lindeque, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Lappies Labuschagné, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Freddie Ngoza, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Substitutes: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Rayno Benjamin, 22 Willie du Plessis
15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Michael van der Spuy, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Michael Rhodes
, 6. Deon Fourie (captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Tazz Fuzani, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Brok Harris
, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Schalk Burger, 20. Josh Katzen, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Demetri Catrakilis
Referee: Marius Jonker