Cheetahs opt for Smit's boot
Riaan Smit (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein - Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské made just one change to his side for their Currie Cup semi-final against the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday (17:00 kick-off).
Wing Riaan Smit receives a starting berth in the place of Rayno Benjamin, who was included on the replacement bench.
"The reason for Riaan Smit's inclusion is that he is our first-choice goal kicker," said Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie.
"In a semi-final, you will take every opportunity for points which come your way and that is why we have decided to include him.
"Riaan has kicked 15 out of 15 attempts thus far and will be our go-to man with regards to kicking against the Sharks."
Drotské was pleased to have his first-choice centre-pairing of Robert Ebersohn and Johann Sadie as well as his Springbok front row of Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss
and Coenie Oosthuizen
at his disposal.
"Johann and Robert have played together in the Super Rugby competition and they have played in every Currie Cup game so far this year," Drotske said.
"They are stalwarts in every respect and we will look to them to give us momentum on attack as well as defence.
"In the scrums we expect another tough battle, as our Springbok front row will pack down against another of the Sharks. It is going to be a hard match, that is for sure."
In the other changes to the bench, hooker Hercu Liebenberg comes in for AJ le Roux.
Prop Rossouw de Klerk replaces Schalk van der Merwe, who was red carded for a dangerous tackle on fullback Jurgen Visser
against the Bulls last week and is likely to be suspended
"We feel that Hercu has recovered from his injury efficiently and that we can include him," Drotské said.
"He was the man in the saddle when Adriaan Strauss
was involved with the Springboks and his lineout throws are also more on target than AJ's."
Drotské included Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen among the replacements after he played the last couple of minutes against the Pretoria-based outfit.
"We have decided to again include him (Goosen) on the bench and we are managing him after a lengthy injury," he said.
"Just like Frans Steyn
's return for the Sharks, Goosen's return is also a game of chance."Teams:
15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane
, 13. Louis Ludik
, 12. Francois Steyn
, 11. Lwazi Mvovo
, 10. Patrick Lambie
, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel
(captain), 7. Jean Deysel
, 6. Marcell Coetzee
, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Peet Marais
, 3. Wiehahn Herbst
, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper
, 17. Danie Mienie, 18. Stephan Lewies, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Cobus Reinach
, 21. Fred Zeilinga
, 22. Heimar Williams
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 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Teboho Mohoje, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Johan Goosen, 22 Rayno Benjamin