Cape Town - Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has named his team for their Currie Cup opener against the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein on Saturday (14:15 kick-off).
Francois Uys, who led the team in Super Rugby, has retained the captaincy for the Currie Cup.
It’s a relatively inexperienced Cheetahs line-up, with left wing Raymond Rhule the only Springbok.
Niel Marais, who was a star for Shimlas in this year's Varsity Cup, starts at flyhalf, with Shaun Venter on his inside at scrumhalf.
Up front, the Cheetahs will lean heavily on the experience of flank Boom Prinsloo as well as skipper Uys.
It will be the first time Smith is in charge in the Currie Cup, having taken over the head coaching duties from Naka Drotske during the latter stages of Super Rugby.
Smith earlier this year coached Shimlas to a maiden Varsity Cup triumph.
Free State Cheetahs:
15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 BG Uys, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Fred Zeilinga