Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie has opted to retain Reinhardt Fortuin at flyhalf for the Currie Cup clash with the Lions at Ellis Park on Friday.
First-choice playmaker Siya Masuku missed the Cheetahs’ win over Western Province in Cape Town two weeks ago due to illness and later suffered a blow in training.
Fourie says Masuku only returned to full practice on Tuesday and will therefore play off the bench.
In the only backline change, Duncan Saal will start on the left wing in place of Rosko Specman, who will be getting married on Saturday. Hooker Wilmar Arnoldi this week returned from a loan deal with the Stormers and wasn’t considered for the trip to Johannesburg.
Mihlali Mosi is back as No 8 for Jeandre Rudolph, who in turn replaces Andisa Ntsila as flank.
In the front row, hooker Marnus van der Merwe and prop Cameron Dawson swap with Louis van der Westhuizen and Alulutho Tshakweni, who are now on the bench.
The Cheetahs are still unbeaten with 31 points on the log from seven matches, and are within a point of the table-topping Vodacom Bulls.
Fourie’s men will face a winless Lions side at Ellis Park, rooted to the bottom of the table, but the coach has warned against complacency: “It’s the first time I have been at Cheetahs that we going to play back at Ellis Park … unbelievable stadium with a good history.
“We won’t focus on the fact that we’re unbeaten, and are not focused on the Lions not having won; they were unlucky to lose to Griquas in the last minute in their last game. We [also] don’t see ourselves as the top team in the competition.”
Cheetahs – 15 Cohen Jasper, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Duncan Saal, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruan Pienaar (c), 8 Mihlali Mosi, 7 Jeandre Rudolph, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Aidon Davis, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Cameron Dawson.
Subs: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Marne Coetzee, 19 Ockie Barnard, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Siya Masuku, 23 Robert Ebersohn.