Cheetahs change two for Lions
Bloemfontein - Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské made two injury forced changes to his side for their Currie Cup encounter against the Golden Lions on Friday evening in Bloemfontein.
The hosts will have to make do without two key players, Philip van der Walt and lock Lood de Jager, who are both struggling with injuries and are not fit to play.
They have been replaced by Davon Raubenheimer and Waltie Vermeulen respectively, with Tertius Daniller coming in on the replacement bench.
Drotské admitted that losing two vital players ahead of the clash was not ideal.
"It's never easy losing guys, especially Philip and Lood because of their vast experience, but the guys who come in are experienced in their own way and will certainly do their part," Drotské said.
"We all know that Waltie is very good in the lineouts, while Davon has really improved over the last couple of weeks.
"He is a hard worker at practise and a player that can also play at Super Rugby level and we are confident he will be up for the challenge."
With the competition entering the second round, consistency is key and therefore the coach opted to not tamper with the rest of his side.
Prop Trevor Nyakane, hooker Hercu Liebenberg and prop Rossouw de Klerk are still in the pound seats with regards to the scrums.
And an attacking backline with old hands like scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius and centre Robert Ebersohn will also be vital against the visitors.
"The Lions have chosen a new front row altogether and we will definitely look to target them there," Drotské said.
"They have CJ van der Linde who is very experienced, but Bees Roux hasn't played all that much rugby the last couple of weeks.
"It will be interesting to see how he goes."
The Cheetahs lost to the Blue Bulls last week in Pretoria, a game Drotské would rather forget, and have struggled to be consistent.
Against the Lions the Bloemfontein-based side gets a chance to rectify all that went wrong at Loftus Versfeld.
"This is the business end of the competition.
"Things are quite tight on the points log so the next few games, specially home games, are important," he said.
"We have three of our five games in Bloemfontein so we can't afford to slip up again.
"In my opinion we need to win all our home games and at least one away game if we are to progress to the knock-out stages."
Free State Cheetahs:
15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Riaan Smit, 13. Johann Sadie, 12. Robert Ebersohn, 11. Raymond
Rhule, 10. Elgar Watts, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Boom Prinsloo (captain), 7. Davon
Raubenheimer, 6. Lappies Labuschagne, 5. Waltie Vermeulen, 4. Teboho Mohoje, 3.
Rossouw de Klerk, 2. Hercu Liebenberg, 1. Trevor Nyakane.
16. Ethienne Reynecke, 17. Wian du Preez, 18. Freddie Ngoza, 19. Tertius Daniller, 20. Kevin
Luiters, 21. Willie du Plessis, 22. Piet Lindeque
Marnitz Boshoff, 14. Andries Coetzee, 13. Robert De Bruyn, 12. Dylan
Des Fountain, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Tian Meyer, 8.
Willie Britz, 7. Derek Minnie (captain), 6. Warwick Tecklenberg, 5.
Franco van der Merwe, 4. Ruan Venter, 3. Bees Roux, 2. Willie Wepener,
1. CJ van der Linde
Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Jacques v
Rooyen, 18. Hugo Kloppers, 19. Jaco Kriel, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Deon
Helberg, 22. Ruhan Nel