Falcons coach Rudy Joubert was unable to name a fullback or backline replacements when he announced his squad to take on the Leopards in the second of their Currie Cup promotion/relegation series in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The Leopards, beating First Division finalists, stunned the Falcons when they beat them 29-24 in Brakpan last Friday – leaving the Falcons, who finished last in the Currie Cup Premier Division, with a mountain to climb if they hope to retain their status amongst South Africa’s elite provinces.
Rugby 365 reports that Joubert is crossing fingers that the versatile Johan Jackson is fit enough to play in this important fixture.
The Falcons coach couldn’t consider fullback Jeff Perkins, who suffered a fracture in the first promotion-relegation match and lock Wouter Moore.
Joubert surprised by naming the virtually unknown Doepie du Preez to partner veteran Nico Luus at lock. Marius Coetzer, who started in the first playoff match, has been dropped down to the bench.
Joubert also decided to name a brand new front row – with Gavin Whittingham packing down at loosehead prop, Rayno Barnes at hooker and Frik Venter at tighthead.
Loose forwards Reg Muller and Thabo Mamojele swaps jerseys, with Muller starting at No.8.
Apart from refraining to name a fullback, Joubert name an unchanged backline. It means there is no place for flyhalf Len Oliver, who might struggle to find a place on a bench that could have a five-forwards-two-backs split.
Joubert could juggle between a fit Jackson, Olivier and wings Johan Schwartz and Nicky Kritzinger for the vacant fullback and bench spots.
Falcons: 15 AN Other, 14 Dewald Pretorius, 13 Franco Booysen, 12 Alwyn Burger, 11 Poerie van Rooyen, 10 Hanno Coetzee (captain), 9 Gerrie Odendaal, 8 Reg Muller, 7 Thabo Mamojele, 6 Gert Lubbe, 5 Doepie du Preez, 4 Nico Luus, 3 Frik Venter, 2 Rayno Barnes, 1 Gavin Whittingham.
Replacements: 16 Jody Jeneker, 17 Snoepie Coetzee, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Daan-Roux van Coller, 20 Sean Plaatjies, 21 A.N Other, 22 A.N Other.
Date: Friday, October 24
Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Marius Jonker
Touch judges: Willie Roos, Peter de Bruin
TMO: Michael Cupido
Television coverage: Live on SuperSport 1