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Preview: Cheetahs vs WP

  • 27 Sep 2013
Schalk Burger is back for Western Province Schalk Burger is back for Western Province

The Free State Cheetahs and Western Province will both be looking for improved performances when they meet in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Last week, the Cheetahs suffered their heaviest defeat of the season, a 50-26 loss to the Sharks at Kings Park, and WP struggled to an unconvincing 19-13 triumph over Griquas at Newlands.

The biggest selection news of the week was the inclusion of Springbok flanker Schalk Burger among the WP replacements. Burger has been out of action since playing for the Stormers in the opening round of last year's Super Rugby tournament and he makes his return to WP's Currie Cup team for the first time since their 2011 semi-final loss to the Golden Lions.

WP coach Allister Coetzee knows it's only the early stages of Burger's comeback and says he will manage the 68-Test veteran's return carefully.

'Almost two years have passed and Schalk has gone through a lot [injury complications and illness],' said Coetzee. 'He has come through training very well and his inclusion in the squad is part of his comeback process. We don't expect him to be at his best and merely having him around the players brings out his positive influence.

'It's just good to have him back and he'll feel like a new player when he comes on to play. The way he's been running at practice makes one think that he could be an even better player than what he's been in the past.'

In other changes to the team that beat Griquas, Deon Fourie returns from a two-week lay-off with a rib injury to reclaim the captaincy and No 6 jersey. Having served a one-week ban for stamping, Michael Rhodes will start at No 7 in place of Rayn Smid, while Michael van der Spuy will wear the No 13 jersey in the absence of Springbok squad member Juan de Jongh.

Coetzee expects a much better performance from his men after they came close to losing last week.

'The game against Griquas is one that we want to forget,' he said. 'This week we focused on the Cheetahs, which will be another tough ask. We will have to execute our game plan much better and will have to be more clinical.'

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské is determined his side will bounce back after that big loss to the Sharks and has placed a bigger emphasis on defence this week.

'We have spoken to each and every one of the players,' he said. 'The message was simple. They have to decide if they want to buy into our defensive structures and if they are going to pitch for the game mentally.'

Drotské has made several changes to his team, with wing Piet Lindeque, loose forward Oupa Mohoje, lock Freddie Ngoza and prop Schalk van der Merwe all coming into the starting XV, and Trevor Nyakane moving from loosehead to tighthead prop.

Our team's predictions

What the bookies say

Free State Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Piet Lindeque, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo (c), 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Lappies Labuschagné, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Freddie Ngoza, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Rayno Benjamin, 22 Willie du Plessis.

Western Province – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Taz Fuzani, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Josh Katzen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis.

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