Van Zyl back for Cheetahs
The Toyota Cheetahs have decided on just one change to their team that demolished the Melbourne Rebels for their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the DHL Stormers in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Nuggety halfback Piet van Zyl moves back into the starting line-up, replacing Sarel Pretorius as coach Naka Drotske kept faith with the team that has now won four games in a row.
It’s not hard to understand why. With momentum on his side and a four-match winning run, Drotske is keen to make it five in a row – and is now taking aim at his team’s poor record against fellow South African franchises after winning just one out of eight last year against these teams.
But Van Zyl’s inclusion is more than that. While Pretorius has a special knack of breaking defensive lines on attack, the key in Super Rugby is to have a good squad and with Van Zyl playing precious little rugby in recent times, it was decided to bring him back into the team.
“There is very little to choose between the two of them – they are both excellent gamebreakers who are dangerous when they get front foot ball. We feel Piet has had little game time of late, so it is part of our rotation policy to give him more game time this weekend,” Drotske explained his selection.
There were also a few raised eyebrows at Coenie Oosthuizen’s inclusion on the bench once again behind Lourens Adriaanse. Oosthuizen showed he is back to his best against the Rebels with a sterling performance in the loose and in the setpieces, and it was widely expected he would return to the starting line-up this week.
But Adriaanse keeps his place, mainly to ensure that the Cheetahs have the same explosive power coming off the bench as an impact in the game.
“It is one reason, the other one is that Lourens Adriaanse has been playing well. His general play is good and his workrate is top notch – especially in the scrums,” Drotske added.
“We were struggling with our scrums and he came in and steadied the ship, so I think you have to reward him for his good play. Coenie’s introduction in the second half gives us a lot of intensity on attack.”
Drotske also dismissed talk that the Stormers were ripe for the taking, given their three losses thus far in the competition and the injuries they have picked up.
“The Stormers are always a quality side, what makes them difficult is their defence. You have to work very hard to get points against them. We expect a tough game against them, they have good forwards and quality backs and you don’t score points easily against them.
“It’s always a close game against them, the last two outings were within seven points and it is important for us to use the confidence we have achieved this season in the right way.”
Burton Francis keeps his place in the side after his good performance in replacing Riaan Smit just minutes before the game against the Rebels, with Francois Brummer coming onto the bench as cover.
Toyota Cheetahs team: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Burton Francis, Piet van Zyl, Phillip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Heinrich Brüssow, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuisen, Rynhard Landman, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Francois Brummer, Ryno Benjamin.