Cape Town - Cheetahs coach Franco Smith insists they will not be underestimating the Sunwolves in Saturday’s Super Rugby encounter in Bloemfontein.
Smith made several changes to his starting line-up from the one which beat the Bulls 34-28 last weekend.
The changes, however, are injury-enforced after a bruising battle against the men from Pretoria.
“We always knew we would get injuries. It’s not as disruptive as people might think,” Smith said after naming his team on Thursday. “We just have to concentrate on our game and not get fazed against who we’re playing and just keep on working to get the process done.”
The Cheetahs beat the Sunwolves 92-17 in Bloemfontein last year and the Japanese team head into their 2017 encounter low on confidence.
They opened their campaign with a demoralising 83-17 loss to the Hurricanes in Tokyo, before losing 37-23 to the Southern Kings in Singapore last weekend.
However, Smith has warned his team to not underestimate the Sunwolves, insisting he picked the best team available.
“It stays a Super Rugby team that we’re facing. It’s not a trial so test our depth, we’re taking the best team available out there. And I believe the best part of the 54 players (in our squad), can play Super Rugby...”
Up front, Smith brought in Charles Marais in the front row. He replaces Ox Nche, who sustained a knee injury against the Bulls.
At lock, Francois Uys replaces Reniel Hugo, who is sidelined due to a long-term knee injury.
The injured Uzair Cassiem (knee) is replaced by Paul Schoeman, who starts as No 6 flank, while Niell Jordaan will run out at No 8.
In the backline, Rayno Benjamin moves to outside centre, replacing the injured Nico Lee (shoulder), while Zee Mkhabela will start at right wing in Benjamin’s place.
Meanwhile, Tom Botha, Armandt Koster, Henco Venter, Ali Mgijima and Ruan van Rensburg are new additions to the bench.
Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 17:15.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Zee Mkhabela, 13 Rayno Benjamin, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Charles Marais
Substitutes: 16 Danie Mienie, 17 Elandre Huggett, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Armandt Koster, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Ruan van Rensburg
15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 William Tupou, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shumei Matsuhashi, 6 Ed Quirk (captain), 5 Uwe Hela, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Koki Yamamoto
Substitutes: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi