Herewith a team by team breakdown of the selected sides for this weekend’s Currie Cup Premier Division matches.
Griquas coach Pote Human included hooker and captain Ryno Barnes as the only change to his side for their Currie Cup encounter against Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Peacock Blues have now won three games – against the Lions, Sharks and Blue Bulls – consecutively.
Human said he hoped the decision not to tamper with his side will give them that elusive victory over Western Province at Newlands.
The team has not won a Currie Cup match against WP at Newlands for 101 years.
“We know Western Province are very tough to beat in Cape Town, thus we’ve chosen to go with the same side that did so well against the Blue Bulls,” Human said.
“We have the momentum and we want to keep it.
“If we can beat Province at home, we will be well on our way to a possible Currie Cup semi-final.”
Barnes, returning from a one week suspension replaces Matt Dobson.
“Matt did really well last weekend, but Ryno is our captain and we will need him against an experienced outfit like Western Province,” the Griquas mentor said on Wednesday.
“Matt can still play a major role as impact player from the bench though.”
In the only other change to the bench, former Sharks winger Luzuko Vulindlu moves into the match 22.
Vulindlu, who got injured against the Sharks, played a leading role in Griquas’ victory over the Durban-based side two weeks ago and could be a factor against Western Province.
Griquas Team: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Richard Lawson, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Wesley Wilkins, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Luzuko Vulindlu.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs:
Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen will make his comeback from injury via the Free State Cheetahs’ bench.
Oosthuizen, who has been sidelined since he suffered a neck injury against England in June, will feature among the replacements when the Cheetahs travel to Pretoria on Saturday to take on the Blue Bulls in a Currie Cup crunch match.
Although he has worked hard to regain full fitness, Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has opted to play him off the bench.
However, given enough game time in the second half he may well convince Bok coach Heyneke Meyer he is ready for a recall to the national team ahead of the home leg of the Rugby Championship – when they face Australia in Pretoria (September 29) and New Zealand in Soweto a week later.
Drotské is planning to give him about 30 minutes in the second half.
The return of Oosthuizen comes in the wake of the neck injury that ruled prop Schalk van der Merwe out. Golden Lions import Ross Geldenhuys will start at tighthead.
Another international player returning to the Cheetahs team after injury is Sevens Bok Philip van der Walt, who has recovered from his foot injury and will wear the No.8 jersey.
Drotské also made a significant change in midfield, where South African Under-20 star Raymond Rhule moves from wing to outside centre – a position where he played most of his schools rugby and also starred for Free State at Under-21 level.
Former young Lions and Blue Bulls hooker AJ le Roux will provide cover on the bench in the absence of Bok No.2 Adriaan Strauss and the injured PW van Vuuren (also a neck injury).
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Raymond Rhule, 12 Robert Ebersohn (captain), 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Hendro Scholtz, 20 Sias Ebersohn, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Andries Strauss.
Date: Saturday 22 September
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Cobus Wessels
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Vodacom Blue Bulls:
Returning Springboks Jano Vermaak and Jacques Potgieter has been included in the Vodacom Blue Bulls team that will play the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in an Absa Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Vermaak will play at scrumhalf and Potgieter will form part of a new loose trio combination that also includes Arno Botha, who returns from injury.
Potgieter replaces CJ Stander, who will play off the bench, while Botha replaces Warwick Tecklenburg, who is rested.
Mornè Mellett replaces the injured Dawie Steyn for his first involvement in the 2012 season in the other change to the pack that will also see Franco Mostert in the run-on side in place of Grant Hattingh, who is injured.
Vermaak’s inclusion in place of Rudy Paige is one of three changes at the back. Sampie Mastriet will make his debut on the wing, while JJ Engelbrecht moves to outside centre, with Ulrich Beyers dropping to the bench.
Bjorn Basson was not considered due to a family bereavement.
Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar admitted that his side has no option left but to win.
“Our task is a simple one. We have to win every match from here on in if we want to play in the semi-finals. Everyone understands that and accepts the fact that we only have ourselves to blame for this. It is great to have the likes of Jano and Jacques back and I am sure their experience will be very valuable on the weekend.”
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain, Dewald Potgieter, admitted that they have their backs to the wall.
“There are no second chances left. We have to turn this season around and justify all the hard work that we put in and reward the faith that has been placed in us,” Potgieter said.
The team is: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Louis Fouchè, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (Captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjè, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
DHL Western Province:
Allister Coetzee, the DHL Western Province head coach, has named his team for Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup clash against GWK Griquas at DHL Newlands (15:00).
Coetzee has made seven changes to the starting XV from last week, with Joe Pietersen, Louis Schreuder, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff all starting and Gio Aplon and Don Armand switching positions.
In the backline, Pietersen will wear his regular No.15 jersey, after returning from injury against the Sharks last Saturday, with Aplon switching to the left-wing. Schreuder will start at scrumhalf, with Nic Groom dropping down to the bench after starting two matches in a row.
Up front, meanwhile, Springbok squad member Frans Malherbe returns at tighthead in a double front row change; the youngsters (Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff) starting and the experienced duo of Brok Harris and Deon Carstens providing cover via the bench.
Elsewhere in the pack, Don Armand shifts from lock to flank to cover for the suspended Tyrone Holmes at No.7, meaning that DHL WP Under-21 captain Wilhelm van der Sluys will earn his first-ever Absa Currie Cup start for his province at lock.
There are two new faces on the bench this week, flyhalf Gary van Aswegen (in for Kurt Coleman – broken jaw) and loose forward JJ Gagiano, a former Varsity Cup stalwart and a 2011 Rugby World Cup representative for the USA Eagles.
Van Aswegen last featured for DHL WP in the opening match of the season, whilst Gagiano will make his Absa Currie Cup debut should he take to the field on Saturday.
DHL Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (Captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Wilhelm van der Sluys**, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Helmut Lehmann, 19 JJ Gagiano*, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Damian de Allende.
* On Absa Currie Cup debut for DHL Western Province.
**First Absa Currie Cup start for DHL Western Province.
Referee: Stuart Berry
The full DHL Western Province programme for Saturday, September 22 (all matches at DHL Newlands):
10h45 – DHL WP Under-19 vs Leopards Under-19
12h45 – DHL WP Under-21 vs Leopards Under-21
15h00 – DHL WP vs GWK Griquas (Absa Currie Cup)
Sharks coach John Plumtree has had no hesitation in throwing his returning Springboks into the starting line-up for this Saturday’s top of the table Absa Currie Cup clash with the Lions at Coca-Cola Park.
Plumtree has stuck largely with the team that played so well to defeat Western Province at Mr Price KINGS PARK last weekend but has selected his team with a need for experience in mind as they take on the log leaders.
Steven Sykes returns from injury and will take up his second row position alongside Anton Bresler, although Paul Jordaan, also back from a week on the side-lines following a knock he took against Griquas in Kimberley two weeks ago, has been named on the bench with Plumtree loathe to break-up the midfield partnership.
Lwazi Mvovo replaces Rosko Specman on the wing and Craig Burden (pictured) returns in place of Pieter Dixon in an otherwise unchanged team.
“The Lions have found some good form, they are winning away from home and we have not beaten them since 2010 in all competitions which has been a long time,” admits The Sharks coach.
“We know what challenge lies ahead of us this weekend and it will be a very focussed Sharks side that goes up there for this match.”
The Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (Captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Brynard Stander, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Paul Jordaan, 22 Sibusiso Sithole.
MTN Golden Lions
The Golden Lions Rugby Union announced the MTN Golden Lions team to play The Sharks on Saturday, 22 September at Coca-Cola Park, this morning.
There is one confirmed change for the time being to the team that played the Toyota Free State Cheetahs last weekend – Hendrik Roodt has been ruled out due to injury. There is one possible other change to the starting line up – Alwyn Hollenbach may be replaced by Jaco Taute, but this will be confirmed on Friday, 21 September.
The players bracketed in the team below cover for injury concerns to Michael Rhodes and Alwyn Hollenbach who will undergo a final fitness test on Friday.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach / Jaco Taute, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Willie Britz, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes / Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (Captain).
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen / Ruan Botha, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Butch James, 22 Jaco Taute / Dylan Des Fountain