The pressure is on the Toyota Cheetahs this week as the side hunts for just their fourth win of the Super Rugby campaign when they tackle the second placed Stormers in Bloemfontein.
The injury cloud is still hanging over the Cheetahs, with Springbok tighthead, Coenie Oosthuizen ruled out for a further week with a back injury, while centre Johann Sadie is also out. This sees a shuffle in the midfield with Francois Venter moving to outside, while Michael van der Spuy gets a starting role at inside centre.
Among the forwards Oosthuizen’s absence sees Maks van Dyk start at tighthead again, while Caylib Oosthuizen starts at loosehead in the place of the injured Danie Mienie. This sees Ewald van der Westhuizen on the bench for a second straight week, while a possible Super Rugby debut looms for Dolph Botha of the Shimlas.
Coach Naka Drotské said the pressure will be on at scrum-time, but feels that his front-row can stand their man against the powerful Stormers pack.
“We’ve lost two looseheads now and one tighthead as well, Coenie is one of our best players so the pressure will definitely be on.
“But in saying that I think we really scrummed well against the Lions and Maks van Dyk showed that he can scrum in this competition and Caylib Oosthuizen is experienced in Super Rugby,” Drotské said about the starting front row.
“It’s an opportunity for him to play Super Rugby, so he needs to prove that he can play on this level,” the coach added about Botha’s possible debut.
The most notable chances to the side that lost 34-29 to Lions in Johannesburg last weekend sees Joe Pietersen starts at flyhalf again, with Clayton Blommetjies balancing the backline at fullback.
Willie du Plessis who slipped two crucial tackles against the Lions, which led to tries, has been dropped from the squad and Francois Brummer of the Griquas finds himself back in the setup.
While the spate of injuries has rocked the Cheetahs, the good news for the side is that Sergeal Petersen who previously played Super Rugby for the Southern Kings, will start at wing in the place of Cornal Hendricks who is being rested.
Coach Naka Drotské is delighted to finally have the player make his Cheetahs debut after he broke his jaw against the Bulls in the Super Rugby warm-up games.
“If you look at the pre-season from last year November-December he was looking really good. He broke his jaw against the Bulls which was unfortunate because he was playing really well.
“It’s really exciting to have him back, I definitely think he is one of the most exciting backs in the country and it’s good to be able to call on him with Cornal being rested,” Drotské said about the former U20 Springbok wing.
In the two sides previous clashes in Bloemfontein the Cheetahs won both matches with 26-24 and 35-22 victories, however last match at Newlands, the Stormers trashed the central South African team 33-0.
Saturday’s match at the Free State Stadium kicks off at 17:05.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael Venter, 11 Sergeal Peterson, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements – 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greef, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Danie Dames.