Johannesburg – The Golden Lions are cautious of a Cheetahs side fighting for their survival in this year’s Currie Cup competition ahead of their match in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Johannesburg side in contrast could secure a home semi-final following their seven consecutive victories so far with three matches left in the regular season.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said his side needed to be switched on in the encounter as the Cheetahs will be motivated for the match.
“We are in the same situation as last week against the Sharks, they (the Cheetahs) are in a position where they cannot afford to lose,” Ackermann told Sport24 on Thursday.
“They certainly won’t have a lack of motivation and they are busy creating a new culture there with a new style.
“They have a good backline with experienced players, so we expect them to use their backline and they will open the game up.”
Ackermann said his charges needed to stick to their game plan against a Cheetahs team that are fresh off a comprehensive victory over Griquas which launched them into fourth place on the log.
“We just need to play the way we want to play, and we need to lift the standard and ensure we don’t experience a dip,” Ackermann said.
The Lions were bolstered by the return of Warren Whiteley, who will be starting at eighthman with Steph de Wit also earning a starting berth with Kwagga Smith moving to the bench.
The third change to the starting line-up is the inclusion of Jacques van Rooyen in the front row.
Ackermann said Whiteley would bring some needed enthusiasm to their campaign and more leadership as they head into the business end of the competition.
“Warren was one of the experienced players, he is one of our leaders, he is hungry after featuring in the Springbok Test at Ellis Park, so it is great to have his energy in the team,” Ackermann said.
“Hopefully he can bring some spark but we don’t want to put too much pressure on him and that is why we kept Jaco Kriel as captain so that he can focus on his game.
“The reality is he brings that leadership and energy which is great at this stage of the season.”
Kick-off is at 13:15.
Free State Cheetahs
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Zee Mkhabela, 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Niell Jordaan, 6 Vincent Jobo, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Freddy Ngoza, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Teunis Nieuwoudt
Substitutes: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 BG Uys, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 De Wet Kruger, 20 Ryno Benjamin, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Fred Zeilinga
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Steph de Wit, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 Jako van der Walt, 21 TBA, 22 TBA