Free State coach Naka Drotske has wielded a heavy axe after his side’s poor performance against the Lions in round 1 of the Currie Cup, with a new halfback combination perhaps the most significant of the changes made as the team prepares to take on the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein..
Riaan “True Blue” Smit proved anything but true at flyhalf last week and has been shifted back out to the wing this weekend, where he replaces Nico Scheepers. Forgotten man Sias Ebersohn comes in for a rare start at pivot, where he will partner Sarel Pretorius; the nippy former Griquas and Waratahs scrumhalf swaps places with Piet van Zyl this week and with Pretorius having just committed his Super Rugby future to the Cheetahs as well, one would imagine that Drotske would be keen to let him establish himself as first-choice in that position going forward.
Dries Strauss has paid the price for repeated yellow card infringements over the last few months, losing his place at inside centre to Barry Geel in the last of the backline changes.
At forward, Kabamba Floors comes into the loose trio at number 8 for the injured Boom Prinsloo, whiel Frans Viljoen replaces Davon Raubenheimer, who’s been dropped to the bench. Andries Ferreira is in at lock for Waltie Vermeulen in the seventh change to the starting fifteen.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn (captain), 12 Barry Geel, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Kabamba Floors, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Schalk van Merwe, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Nico Scheepers.