Ashwin Willemse is one of a handful of players Cats coach Frans Ludeke hopes will finally inspire a roar at Ellis Park on Saturday.
After team delays and much soul searching this week Ludeke revealed his hand and picked his strongest backline of the season and arguably his best pack. Some would argue it is the strongest side the Cats could have picked. And they’re playing at Ellis Park.
Willemse’s return is significant and it extends beyond the result of the match. The Bok winger has been plagued by injury in the last two years and Bok coach Jake White will be anxious that Willemse actually makes it through 80 minutes. Another injury could be the one that breaks the winger.
Grant Esterhuizen moves into the centres and Jaque Fourie is at wing. Perhaps Bok coach Jake White gave some indication to Ludeke of where he would play Fourie for this match.
Ricky Januarie’s return could also prove influential.
The Sharks have made just one change to the side that whipped the Rubble Reds: Andries Strauss partners Adi Jacobs in the midfield.
CATS: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Ashwin Willemse, 13 Grant Esterhuizen, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Jaque Fourie; 10 Andre Pretorius, 9 Enrico Januarie; 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Gerhard Mostert, 6 Wikus van Heerden (c), 5 Willem Stoltz, 4 KleinJan Tromp, 3 Marius Hurter, 2 Lukas van Biljon, 1 Pietman van Niekerk. Subs: 16 Delarey du Preez, 17 Lawrence Sephaka, 18 Gordon Gilfillan, 19 Gerhard Vosloo, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Doppies la Grange, 22 Earl Rose.
SHARKS: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Henno Mentz, 10 Tony Brown, 9 Ruan Pienaar; 8 AJ Venter, 7 Jacques Botes, 6 Warren Britz, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Johan Ackermann, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Deon Carstens. Subs: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Scott Mathie, 21 Brad Barritt, 22 JP Pietersen.