The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have made changes to their team to face the Tafel Lager Griquas in the Currie Cup derby on Saturday.
This most notable change is at flyhalf with Ryno Eksteen replacing the injured Niel Marais in the number 10 jersey.
Marais dislocated his shoulder during the teams’ 45-34 win over the Pumas in Nelspruit. Marais will be out of action for up to two months.
Armand Koster has been drafted back into the starting XV at the expense of Justin Basson who is being rested.
Charles Marais also returns to the team after being a late withdrawal ahead of the match in Nelspruit. He will be starting the match at loosehead prop, with Ox Nche rotating to the bench to provide cover on both sides of the scrum.
Other changes to the backline see the seasoned campaigner, JW Jonker, starting outside centre with William Small-Smith also being rested.
The winger, Sergeal Petersen, has recovered from his injury and slots in on the bench, while the Blitzbok, Chris Dry replaces Junior Pokomela.
The Cheetahs coach, Rory Duncan, told Courant that Marais faces a lengthy lay-off and Eksteen was the obvious choice to marshal the backline.
“Niel is going to be out for a couple of months with the dislocation of his shoulder.
“What we’re doing is looking at alternative options and obviously we have a guy like Ryno Eksteen, and his name is the first that comes to mind to fill that position.”
The debutant, Eksteen, told Courant that he is excited to be given the opportunity to prove himself.
“It is an exciting opportunity for me as I have been waiting for a chance to play since moving here from Western Province for this season.
“As it is my Currie Cup debut my aim is to go out and enjoy the game and supplement the team to the best of my ability.”
Bloemfontein kicks off at 15:00.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rosco Specman, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rayno Eksteen, 11 Shaun Venter, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Niell Jordaan, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armand Koster, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements – 16 Ox Nche, 17 Joseph Dweba, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Chris Dry, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Sergeal Petersen, 22 Malcolm Jaer. – MORGAN PIEK