Cape Town - When Joe Pietersen left the Stormers for French club Biarritz in 2013, he did so as one of the form fullbacks in the country.
But these days Pietersen finds himself the conductor of the orchestra at the Cheetahs, and he will start at flyhalf once again when he makes his return to Newlands on Saturday.
It has been a tough old season for the men from Bloemfontein, who have notched up just four wins in 13 attempts. One of those came at home against the Stormers at the beginning of May – Pietersen guiding his side to a 25-17 win at Free State Stadium.
While his explosiveness and pace made him a fan favourite at Newlands under coach Allister Coetzee, the Stormers boss is not overly surprised at the 31-year-old’s transition to number 10.
"I think the big thing why Joe is so comfortable at flyhalf at this point in time is experience," said Coetzee.
"His experience as a winger and as a 15 and as a rugby player in general … and also his skill set. He’s got a good pass and a good kicking game, and that makes good flyhalves.
“If you have time and space on the ball and you can scan and see … and his biggest asset is his communication skills.”
The Cheetahs have little to play for in terms of log position, but they will want to end the season on a high and pay tribute to outgoing coach Naka Drotske. But Coetzee is fully aware that the Cheetahs have the potential to be dangerous.
"What will make it a bit more challenging for us is when the opposition has got no pressure and they come and play with a lot of freedom," said Coetzee.
"We know that. We’ve got to make sure that we tighten up and we’re tidy."We’ve lost at Newlands once all year and that is something that we want to make sure we respect. There is no way any team can come to Newlands and out-desire us or have more will to win than us."
Pietersen, meanwhile, will be joining the Sharks in Durban at the end of the season.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Seabelo Senatla, 13. Juan de Jongh (vice-captain), 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Dillyn Leyds, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7. Siya Kolisi, 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Manuel Carizza, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Vincent Koch, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Jean Kleyn, 20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Huw Jones
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin