Venter and Petersen starting against Pumas

Francois Venter, Daan Human, Corniel van Zyl PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs captain, Francois Venter, is back to lead the side during their crucial Currie Cup match against the Pumas on Friday evening.

Venter has recovered from his ankle injury and will run out at outside centre, alongside Nico Lee with William Small-Smith moving to the bench.

Furthermore the winger Sergeal Petersen also returns from injury and will be playing in the place of the injured Raymond Rhule.

Tian Meyer misses out due to a spider bite and this sees Zee Mkhabela on the bench as the reserve scrumhalf.

Upfront Aranos Coetzee starts at tighthead prop in the place of Tom Botha who is out for three months with a torn bicep.

Ox Nche rotates to the bench with Charles Marais starting at loosehead, while Torsten van Jaarsveld also has an injury and is replaced at hooker by Jacques du Toit.

Venter told Courant that he has been itching to play again.

I was constantly in Franco’s office telling him that I am ready to play, but I wasn’t,” said Venter.

“I’ve been waiting a while, I want to contribute, I don’t just want to come into play, I want to make a difference.

“The side has been playing well and we’ve has success. Our journey starts now, there’s still a lot of rugby to play and he focus is on finishing the campaign.”

Friday evening’s clash between the Pumas and the Free State Cheetahs at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit kicks off at 18:45.

Pumas – 15 Heinrich Steyl, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 Hoffman Maritz, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Renaldo Bothma (Captain), 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Louis Alberts, 2 Frankie Herne, 1 Khwezi Mona.

Replacements – 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Jeremy Jordaan, 19 Carel Greef, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Devon Williams, 22 Tyler Fisher.

Toyota FS Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (Captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Tier Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo (Vice-captain), 4 Justin Basson, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais.

Replacements – 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Armandt Koster, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 William Small-Smith. – MORGAN PIEK