Cheetahs name full-strength team
Toyota Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has bolstered his team with all available Super Rugby players for their first Currie Cup game against the MTN Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
In the absence of stalwarts like hooker and captain Adriaan Strauss and prop Coenie Oosthuizen – who have been called up to the Springbok camp for the upcoming Castle Rugby Championship encounter against Argentina – and veteran flanker Heinrich Brussow, Drotske will look to senior players to settle the team.
Lood de Jager (lock), Lappies Labuschagne (flanker) and Philip van der Walt (eighth man) all bring experience to the team which takes on the Lions, fresh from reclaiming their place in next year's Super Rugby competition.
Scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, centres Robert Ebersohn and Johann Sadie, as well as fullback Hennie Daniller will all help keep the Lions at bay.
Piet van Zyl, who was the first choice at scrumhalf for much of the Cheetahs' Super Rugby campaign, will start from the bench.
In the absence of Strauss, Drotske named flank Boom Prinsloo as captain.
With the chance of Labuschagne, Van der Walt and Ebersohn being considered for Springbok selection, Drotske has opted for consistency with regards to leadership.
Newcomer Elgar Watts was named as flyhalf in place of regular choice Riaan Smit.
Both Rayno Benjamin and new addition Tonderai Chavanga are injured and not available for Saturday's game.
"We are a little short on wings at the moment, that's why we are looking to Riaan to help us in that regard," Drotske said.
TOYOTA FREE STATE CHEETAHS: Hennie Daniller, Riaan Smit, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo (captain), Waltie Vermeulen, Lood de Jager, John-Roy Jenkinson, Hercu Liebenberg, Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Wian du Preez, Oupa Mohoje, Davon Raubenheimer, Piet van Zyl, Joubert Engelbrecht, Piet Lindeque.