Lock Barend Pieterse will lead the defending champion Cheetahs in their ABSA Currie Cup match against the Falcons in Bloemfontein on Friday night.
News 24 reports that Pieterse took over the captaincy during the Cheetahs 31-9 victory over the Sharks last week when regular captain Hendro Scholtz left the field with an injury.
“Hendro has a neck and shoulder injury, and we’re resting him this week as a precautionary measure,” said Cheetahs manager Helgard Muller on Tuesday.
SA Sevens standout Kabamba Floors replaces Scholtz at blindside flank as one of three changes to last week’s team.
Scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn swaps places with Neil Powell while the return of hooker Adriaan Strauss from Tri-Nations duty with the Springboks sees Jaco du Toit – who will soon be taking up an offer to play rugby in France – fall out of the matchday 22.
Though centre Meyer Bosman’s troublesome hamstring has again ruled him out of action, the performance of SA under-20 centre Robert Ebersohn will have coach Naka Drotske feeling bullish about his team’s midfield combination.
Eager to impress
And the return of Duanne Vermuelen to fitness, taking his place among the replacements, might just have the coach gleefully rubbing his hands together as the Cheetahs preen their tails in anticipation of a run which pits them up against the competition’s lowest-ranked teams over the next three weeks – the Falcons, Boland Cavaliers and Griquas.
Fullback Wilton Pietersen replaces Hendrik Meyer on the bench and, joined by SA Sevens legend Fabian Juries, Powell and Vermeulen, the Cheetahs have a horde of hungry replacements, eager to impress.
The Cheetahs will boast that they have conceded just four tries thus far, but Drotske will be quietly worried that the team’s ability to score at will last year – leading the competition with 70 tries and an average of five per game – has waned to just 9 tries in five matches.
The defending champs must complement their stingy defence with the wide-ranging, try-scoring attack that saw them race to the championship title a year ago, if they plan on keeping the Currie Cup locked up in their trophy cabinet.
Cheetahs: 15-Bevin Fortuin, 14-Eddie Fredericks, 13-JW Jonker, 12-Robert Ebersohn, 11-Jongi Nokwe, 10-Chris Rossouw, 9-Tewis de Bruyn, 8-Schalk van der Merwe, 7-Kabamba Floors, 6-Heinrich Brüssow, 5-Barend Pieterse (capt), 4-David de Villiers, 3-Kobus Calldo, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16-Richardt Strauss, 17-Phillip Lemmer, 18-Flip van der Merwe, 19-Duanne Vermeulen, 20-Neil Powell, 21-Wilton Pietersen, 22-Fabian Juries.