Cheetahs selection wheel spins again

The Free State side have named six changes to the starting team that were soundly beaten 39-28 by the Lions in Ellis Park last week.

With Meyer Bosman out for at least three weeks due to a broken hand, Willem de Waal returns at flyhalf. The sporadically-selected Gaffie du Toit gets another start on the wing, while Chris Kruger will play in his 100th game for Free State at the expense of 19-year-old JW Jonker, who is being rested.

Jaco du Toit has been ruled out for the week because of injury, and so the equally adept Richard Strauss steps in as hooker. Kabamba Floors resumes the role of impact-player on the bench, which sees Darron Nel move to No 6, and versatile lock Barend Pieterse to the blindside flank. As a result of the switch, Corniel van Zyl comes into the second row.

The selection of Pieterse on the flank indicates that Rassie Erasmus wants more options in the lineout, a facet of the game that the Cheetahs love to dominate. The scrum will also be significantly bigger than that of Province, suggesting the Cheetahs may play a tighter game in the first half of the game.

This theory is also boosted by the omission of Floors, and whether Nel will even compete with Luke Watson and company on the ground as a fetcher remains to be seen.

Ollie le Roux will obtain his 50th cap for Free State this weekend. Overall he has played 313 first class games, which is a South African record.

Despite all the changes, Erasmus has confirmed that the win is all-important this Friday, and the experiments are over.

“Last week’s match was important, but we only managed one point from the defeat. So we are short of three points on the log. We need to make up for those lost points on the weekend,” he said.

Vodacom Cheetahs: 15. Bevin Fortuin, 14. Eddie Fredericks, 13. Chris Kruger, 12. Hendrik Meyer, 11. Gaffie du Toit, 10. Willem de Waal, 9. Michael Claassens; 8. Ryno van der Merwe, 7. Barend Pieterse, 6. Darron Nel, 5. Corniel van Zyl, 4. Rory Duncan, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Richardt Strauss, 1. Ollie le Roux (c). Reserves: 16. Wian du Preez, 17. Cobus Caldo, 18. Heinrich Brussouw, 19. Kabamba Floors, 20. Noel Oeslchig, 21. Alwyn Hollenbach, 22. Phillip Burger.