Franco happy to trial scrumhalf on the wing
Cape Town - Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is confident that Zee Mkhabela, normally a scrumhalf, will function well on the wing.
Mkhabela was picked at right wing for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Sunwolves in Bloemfontein, as injuries forced the hand of the Cheetahs mentor.
Rayno Benjamin moves from wing to outside centre in place of Nico Lee, who picked up a shoulder injury in last weekend’s 34-28 win over the Bulls.
Twenty-two-year-old Mkhabela normally plays behind the scrum, but Smith - who also coached the player during his time as Shimlas coach - is looking forward to what Mkhabela can do on the wing this weekend.
“I’ve worked with Zee from the Varsity Cup. I’ve always taught the scrumhalves to play wing as well. I’ve always put in effort with him and Shaun Venter and Ruan van Rensburg. Ruan played wing in all our warm-up games. So the idea was always to have a second No 9 on the field,” Smith said after naming his team on Thursday.
At 1.67m and 80kg, Mkhabela is small to be playing out on the wing, but Smith stressed that he’s not much smaller than the injured Sergeal Petersen, who is listed as 1.71m and 82kg.
“Zee was brilliant at wing in our (warm-up) match against the Griffons. He’s (about) the same height as Sergeal (Petersen). It’s not like he’s much shorter and it gives one the opportunity to see what he can do there,” Smith said.
“We have a few injuries in that position, so it did force our hand a bit, but I have full confidence that he’ll be able to do the job for us there. I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
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