Vodacom Super Rugby
Kockott to guard Super-Sarel
Rory Kockott (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - If the Lions could find a way of countering South Africa's leading gamebreaker in the 2011 Super Rugby tournament on Friday, they will be a significant step closer to a victory against the Cheetahs.
So important is Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius's influence on his team's success that finding a counter for him is now a focus in most teams' preparations.
Pretorius's eight tries accounts for 36% of his team's touchdowns in 2011.
To put his influence in perspective: No other Cheetahs player has scored more than two tries this year.
While his unpredictability even sometimes catches his team-mates off guard, nobody will complain about such an individual being the tournament's leading try-scorer.
Lions coach John Mitchell admits that Pretorius is a danger man, but said that the Lions are looking forward to neutralising him.
Mitchell has decided on a change at scrumhalf and the fiery Rory Kockott will be the man in the saddle on Friday.
As was the case with the previous meeting between the Lions and the Cheetahs, which the Lions won 25-20 in Bloemfontein, Kockott got the nod over Jano Vermaak.
"I want Jano to handle untidy possession better and also organise the defence better. I wasn't happy with Jano's form against the Chiefs," said Mitchell.
Kockott offers his team something new and the former Sharks player also does not hesitate to make a difference on own initiative.
With Vermaak having lost his place, Kockott could not ask for a better opportunity to cement his spot in the starting line-up.
For his team it's also an opportunity to reward their deeply disappointed supporters with a home victory.
It will be no easy task to accomplish because the Lions have to overcome a losing habit and the Cheetahs are a team on an upward curve.Teams: Lions:
15 Michael Killian, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Doppies La Grange (captain), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Franco Van der Merwe, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Jaco TauteCheetahs:
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Corne Uys, 11 Phillip Burger, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius; 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Walti Vermeulen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Hennie Daniller
Referee: Craig Joubert