Bloemfontein - The Vodacom Cheetahs’ mounting injury crisis will test their depth as they prepare for their last home game, against the Reds, before embarking on their overseas tour next week.
Coach Naka Drotske has had to make some tough choices ahead of the Reds game, especially after a string of injuries from their loss to the Stormers on the weekend has caused a massive rethink in selections for this weekend.
The biggest casualties are winger Lionel Mapoe, whose dislocated shoulder is a massive blow for the cheetahs and will cause him to miss the rest of the Vodacom Super 14 season.
The other big loss is bullocking no8 Frans Viljoen, who fractured his cheekbone and will be out of action for at least 10 weeks.
Fullback Hennie Daniller will also miss the game, having taken a bad knock.
“He took the knock to his kidneys,” Drotske told Supersport.com, “and there is blood in his urine, so we are taking a precaution in not playing him.”
Luckily for Drotske, the internal disciplinary measures against fullback Riaan Viljoen, who broke team protocol last week and was left out of the squad against the Stormers, are over and he is eligible for selection.
Danwell Demas comes in for Mapoe on the wing, while Ashley Johnson will replace Frans Viljoen at No8.
Flanker Hendro Scholtz has been included in the squad, despite struggling with an injury and a final decision will be taken on Thursday after the captain’s practice. Onto the bench come winger Wilmaure Louw and hooker Skipper Badenhorst.
Riaan Viljoen; Danwell Demas, Robert Ebersohn, Meyer Bosman, Jonghi Nokwe; Naas Olivier, Sarel Pretorius; Ashley Johnson, Juan Smith (capt),Hendro Scholtz, Waltie Vermeulen, Nico Breedt, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss, Wian du Preez.
Substitutes: Skipper Badenhorst, Coenie Oosthuizen, Barend Pieterse, Kabamba Floors, Tewis de Bruyn, Corné Uys, Wilmaure Louw.