Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - Unfailing in his rotational policy, Lions coach Johan Ackermann made seven changes to his run-on side for their Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Ackermann said there was a definite method to his overhaul which would see a brand new centre combination and front-rankers take to the field.
"Every week I sit down with the other coaches and I anticipate how I think a game is going to go and an impact a player can make off the bench," Ackermann said.
"A lot of the players know they will play for a game or two and I will rotate them for either a resting thing or a strategy thing."
Ackermann has consistently rotated his combinations this season keeping his players fresh while also instilling a competitive culture within the Super Rugby squad.
A glaring omission from both the Super Rugby and Vodacom Cup teams for this weekend is that of Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff.
Boshoff played well as the Golden Lions beat the SWD Eagles 29-21 in the Vodacom Cup quarter-finals.
"Marnitz is still important to us and he knows that, we had the discussion with him and he still has a big role for us to play," Ackermann said about Boshoff's absence.
"He will get his opportunity to play and we still believe in his potential.
"The fact is we feel Jaco van der Walt (substitute flyhalf) is a little bit more comfortable at 15 but Bossie has spoken to us and said he is also comfortable there as well and we will look at that from now on.
"Bossie is a match winner and we haven’t chucked him away, Elton is in good form for us and it is good for us to give Jaco that exposure now because we are going to need him in the Currie Cup when Elton Jantjies is not here."
Lionel Mapoe will shift from the wing to outside centre to form a centre combination with Howard Mnisi at the expense of the injured Alwyn Hollenbach and Harold Vorster, who drops to the bench.
Ruan Combrinck moves from the left wing to the right with Courtnall Skosan moving into the side on the other side.
Ackermann made four more changes to the forwards with props Ruan Dreyer and Jacques van Rooyen replacing Julian Redelinghuys and Schalk van der Merwe in the front row.
Lock Franco Mostert, who has been dependable throughout the season will be given half a rest as he will be used off the bench on Saturday.
Andries Ferreira will receive a starting berth in Mostert’s place and will form a second-row combination with Martin Muller, while Warwick Tecklenburg replaces Robert Kruger as blindside flank.
The Lions are one victory away from making this their best season in Super Rugby yet but Ackermann said they were merely looking to rebound from their defeat to the Brumbies.
"We are not chasing a number that we said we want to win eight or nine games, we don’t chase playoffs," he said.
"We weren’t happy with our performance last weekend and we need to rectify that, if we can do that and walk away with the win that would be our ultimate goal.
“"reaking records and extra achievements will be a bonus but that is not part of the motivation or the focus."
While their lacklustre performance and defeat to the Brumbies was a blow to their playoff chances, the Lions were not completely out of the race if they managed to win their final three matches.
Although the Stormers and the Bulls have a game in hand they could keep the Lions’ dream alive should they stumble in their four remaining matches of the season.
Lions captain Warren Whiteley said they did not expect to travel to Bloemfontein and bag easy points.
"They are an unpredictable side and we know when they click they are a dangerous side, we saw that when we played against them and they played great rugby," Whiteley said.
"It is really important for us first and foremost to focus for 80 minutes and that is one of our games the last couple of weeks.
"It is important to play the right type of rugby they are a dangerous side on turnover ball and they’ve got some explosive runners at the back."
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Free State Stadium is scheduled for 17:05.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Carel Greeff, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Minnie
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Warwick Tecklenburg, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Martin Muller, 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Julian Redelinghuys, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Robert Kruger, 21. Ross Cronje, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Harold Vorster