The celebrations of wing Eddie Fredericks’s 100th match and captain Juan Smith’s return to action for the Cheetahs has been tempered by the loss of star centre Robert Ebersohn and Bok hooker Adriaan Strauss for the Currie Cup clash against Boland on Saturday.
The Cheetahs need a bonus-point win against the Boland on Saturday to seal their passage to the Currie Cup semifinals.
And they’ll have to do so without centre Ebersohn, who has a slight injury problem, and will not be risked so close to the play-offs.
JW Jonker now moves from wing to outside centre in place of Ebersohn, with Fredericks slotting into the right wing spot.
Changes in the forward pack include skipper Juan Smith returning at flank after recovering from his neck injury, with Kabamba Floors dropping to the bench.
Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss also misses out after failing to recover adequately from his rib injury. His cousin Richardt Strauss takes over the No.2 jersey, and will celebrate his 50th match on Saturday.
Other players getting a run off the bench include 20-year-old hooker PW van Vuuren, and powerful replacement prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who is just 19 years old.
Furthermore, the Cheetahs’ rebuilding work is going well, with players like Boland wing Danwel Demas and Maties scrumhalf Wilhelm Koch firmly in coach Naka Drotské’s sights, according to Volksblad.
The Cheetahs have already confirmed the signings of Griquas No.8 Frans Viljoen, WP centre Corné Uys, and Falcons scrumhalf Gerrie Odendaal for the 2009 season.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith (captain), 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 David de Villiers, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 PW van Vuuren, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Schalk van der Merwe, 20 Jandré Blom, 21 Hennie Daniller, 22 Kabamba Floors.
Date: Sat, October 4
Venue: Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker
Touch judges: Gareth Lloyd-Jones, Peet Badenhorst
TMO: Johann Meuwesen