Vodacom Super Rugby
Naka: We need to start well
Bloemfontein - A positive start to his team's 'home leg' of the Vodacom Super Rugby series will be vital, Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said on Wednesday.GALLERY: Cheetahs prepare for Canes
Having only played two matches at home in Bloemfontein, the Free State squad will take some comfort in that six of their remaining eight matches will be played at home, starting with Saturday's clash with the Hurricanes.
"It will be very important for the team to get back into winning mode after the tough start we had to the season," said Drotske.
"But, in saying that, we are under no illusions and we know that the Hurricanes have some game breakers, so it will be another big challenge this weekend."
Drotské made three changes to his side for the match with the most significant being the return of Springbok Adriaan Strauss from injury.
Strauss, who will start off the bench, makes his return after fracturing his hand during the Cheetahs' season opener against the Sharks in Durban.
"It is good to have a player like Adriaan back in the side and we look forward to having him back for about 40 minutes this weekend," said Drotske.
The other changes are in the backline where Ryno Benjamin starts at wing in the place of Corne Uys and Barry Geel slots in at inside centre.
As far as morale is concerned, Drotské said they took numerous positives from a month-long tour of Australasia.
"Obviously the victory over the Waratahs was a highlight, but then we competed well in the other games and could perhaps have picked up one or two more wins had we made better use of our chances.
"We are all glad to be back in familiar surroundings and we hope to show that on the field this weekend."
The Hurricanes have meanwhile confirmed they will be without All Black Aaron Cruden (flyhalf) and Conrad Smith (centre) who were both injured in a physical contest against the Brumbies in Canberra last week. Jayden Hayward and the uncapped Beauden Barrett have since been flown in as backline cover.
Fullback Cory Jane is also unavailable due to personal reasons.
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Philip Burger, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp (capt), 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Leon Karemaker, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Corné Uys.