Hawies Fourie has made two changes to the Free State Cheetahs starting XV for Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against Griquas in Kimberley.
Clayton Blommetjies returns from injury, replacing Cohen Jasper at fullback, while Cameron Dawson will be wearing the No 1 jersey with Alulutho Tshakweni providing cover on the bench.
“Blommer has got all the experience that you need so that will add a lot of value. Cohen is a bit unlucky to miss out but will give us good cover off the bench,” coach Fourie said. “Cam passed a fitness test [on Thursday] so we’re confident he’ll be ready.”
With only three rounds remaining, the Cheetahs trail frontrunners the Vodacom Bulls by a single point, but the Free Staters have a game in hand.
In fourth with 21 points from nine games, Griquas will welcome a Cheetahs outfit who are still unbeaten after the same number of matches.
Fourie added: “[Griquas] are under pressure to qualify for the third or fourth place so they will be determined. They have played good rugby this year and have had a few close defeats. We know their strong points and will be ready for them.
“We’re also chasing the Bulls for top spot so we’ll be just as desperate as them.”
In a massive boost for the Cheetahs this week, World Cup-winning Springboks Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn extended their stay in Bloemfontein until the end of 2023, much to the delight of Fourie.
“It makes a big difference for us to have the quality of those two for us. All of us thought that Frans would go to Japan but he decided to stay and will benefit us immensely going forward,” he added.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Ruan Pienaar (c), 8 Mihlali Mosi, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 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 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Ockie Barnard, 20 Jeandre Rudolph, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Cohen Jasper.
Griquas – 15 Ashlon Davids, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Sango Xamlashe, 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Alex-Zander Du Plessis, 9 Johan Mulder, 8 Sibabalo Qoma, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Niel Otto (c), 5 Derik Pretorius, 4 Johan Retief, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Kudzwai Dube.
Subs: 16 Gustav du Rand, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Andries Schutte, 19 Cameron Lindsay, 20 Carl Els, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Christopher Hollis.