Cheetahs spare changes

The Vodacom Cheetahs have stuck with the same side that beat the Sharks for Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup final in Bloemfontein.

Winger Gavin Passens and centre JW Jonker had already recovered from the knocks they took over the weekend, and now Willem de Waal has been cleared to play at flyhalf. De Waal was in doubt after sustaining a slight groin injury in Free State’s 30-14 win over the Sharks last week, but he is expected to be fully fit for the final.

Lock Barend Pieterse has also recovered from a thigh injury that has worried him for the past few weeks. The experiment of playing Pieterse on the flank to add another option in the line-out has been shelved, with Rassie Erasmus keeping with a quicker back row.

The successful combination of Kabamba Floors, Darron Nel and Ryno van der Merwe will once again be entrusted with the task of disrupting the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the breakdown. Floors remains the key man, his speed between the rucks almost nullifying the weight advantage of the Bulls forwards.

While the majority of the side has rotated throughout the season, the two props, Ollie le Roux and Jannie du Plessis have started almost every match, suggesting Erasmus still centres much of his game plan around a solid scrum. Hooker Richardt Strauss has hit some form in the latter stages of the league and will play ahead of Jaco du Toit.

Despite only three starts this season, prolific winger Phillip Burger is a automatic choice to play the Bulls, even if it is at the expense of the more seasoned Eddie Fredericks. Following his brace last week, Passens also keeps his spot out wide.

There are few doubts that the side listed here is the best one available to Erasmus and his management team. Free State lost captain Hendro Scholtz and Giscard Pieters through serious injury earlier in the season, but there will be no excuses for this come Saturday, as their replacements in Floors and Burger have been amongst the top performers in the competition.

Probable Cheetahs team: 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Phillip Burger, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Hendrik Meyer, 11 Gavin Passens, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Ryno van der Merwe, 7 Darron Nel, 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 Rory Duncan, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Ollie le Roux (c). Reserves: 16 Jaco du Toit, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Bian Vermaak, 19 Heinrich Brussouw, 20 Falie Oelschig, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Gaffie du Toit.