Ryno van der Merwe will captain the Cheetahs against the Reds for Friday night’s Vodacom Super 14 match in Bloemfontein.
Van der Merwe replaces the injured Juan Smith, who is expected to be out of action for at least four weeks.
The new skipper may move from his favourite position of eighthman to flank, in order to accomodate Frans Viljoen in the loose trio. Viljoen has been used as an impact player this season and is most effective with ball in hand. Gareth Krause or Ockie van Zyl will take his place on the bench.
Van der Merwe has captained a number of teams in the past, including Free State’s Vodacom Cup side, Border and the Griffons.
“Ryno is playing superb rugby this season, he’s a great leader and I have full faith in him,” said Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus. “We can do well with both Rayno and Frans in the side.”
Meanwhile, the Free State Rugby Union announced that Archbishop Desmond Tutu will become the official mascot of the Cheetahs on Friday.
The Super 14 match between the Reds and the Cheetahs will formally be dedicated to the Arch and from now on the Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls will compete for the Desmond Tutu trophy in the Currie Cup.
“The Free State Rugby Union and the Desmond Tutu Diversity Trust will work closely together to make a success of this undertaking,” said Dick Jansen, the Free State manager of development.
“The union wants to make this year a highlight and Friday’s match is dedicated to the archbishop who celebrates his 75th birthday this year,” he said.