Herewith a team by team breakdown of the selected sides for this weekend’s Currie Cup Premier Division matches.
Griquas coach Pote Human was forced to change his victorious team for the Currie Cup encounter with the Sharks on Friday.
Veteran centre JP Nel, dislocated his finger in the 37-21 win over the Golden Lions last week, underwent surgery this week.
He will be sidelined for four weeks and won’t feature again this season.
Another seasoned campaigner, Walter Venter, has been named to start alongside Jean Stemmet in the Griquas midfield for the trip to Durban.
Richard Lawson comes onto the bench in place of Venter.
There is one other change on the bench, where loose forward Wesley Wilkins – who has recovered from his injury – replaces Jaco Nepgen.
Griquas need to win to book their place in the Currie Cup play-offs for the first time in more than a decade.
Griquas: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (Captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Wesley Wilkins, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Richard Lawson.
Date: Friday 12 October
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Toyota Free State Cheetahs:
Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen returns to the Free State Cheetahs team for their decisive Currie Cup encounter with Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
The 23-year-old, who had struggled with a neck injury since the June Tests against England and only recently returned to action, will make his 50th Currie Cup appearance for the Cheetahs.
He is one of two Boks returning to the Cheetahs’ starting XV for the trip to Newlands.
Oosthuizen will play at tighthead, in the place of Ross Geldenhuys, who drops down to the bench.
Bok vice-captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss returns and takes over the Cheetahs’ captaincy. Hercu Liebenberg, who stood in in the No.2 jersey while Strauss was on international duty, also drops to the bench.
Strauss will also be playing in his 50th Currie Cup match for the Cheetahs.
It will be his 53rd game for the Cheetahs and his 32nd as captain of the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup.
Coach Naka Drotské was forced to make another change, with Pieter Labuschagné ruled out through concussion suffered against the Sharks last week. Veteran Bok Hendro Scholtz, who was called out of retirement recently amidst a loose forward crisis in Bloemfontein, returns to the starting XV.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Francois Uys, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (Captain), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Date: Saturday 13 October
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker, Linston Manuels
TMO: Deon van Blommestein
Vodacom Blue Bulls:
Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar has named all his returning Springboks involved in the Castle Rugby Championship for Saturday’s crucial Absa Currie Cup clash against the MTN Lions in Johannesburg.
The Blue Bulls need to win at Coca-Cola Park, most probably with a bonus point, in order to qualify for an away semi-final spot.
Zane Kirchner, Morné Steyn, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger and Francois Hougaard will all play in the competition for the first time this year.
Kirchner will start at fullback, Steyn will play at flyhalf and Kruger and Van der Merwe will lock the pack. Hougaard starts off the bench in a utility role which also allowed Pienaar the option of having five forwards on the bench.
Arno Botha, who joined the Springboks last week and missed the win over DHL Western Province, is back at No 8 and will be joined by a returning Jacques Potgieter, who played for the Blue Bulls in a solitary start three weeks ago.
Pienaar was very pleased on his selection options, but emphasized that the returning players do not guarantee success against the defending champions on their home turf.
“All the teams will use their returning Springboks this weekend, so we are not in a unique or fortunate position. We are privileged though to have guys back who really care about the daisy, the team and each other. We had no problem with the returning players slotting back in and I really look forward to the weekend. It is no secret that we are in dire straits in the competition, but if ever there were players I would have nominated to help, I have just named them in the team,” the coach said.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (Captain), 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Dean Greyling.
DHL Western Province:
DHL Western Province head coach Allister Coetzee has brought back all his Springboks for Saturday’s must-win Absa Currie Cup clash against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at DHL Newlands (17:05).
Coetzee has made eight changes to his starting line-up from last weekend’s clash in Pretoria with the introduction of DHL WP’s seven Castle Rugby Championship Springboks – including national skipper Jean de Villiers who takes over the captaincy from flanker Deon Fourie.
De Villiers will be joined in the starting line-up by fellow Boks – centre Juan de Jongh, winger Bryan Habana, No.8 Duane Vermeulen, locks Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker and hooker Tiaan Liebenberg.
Of the eight changes to the WP starting XV, one is positional with Don Armand shifting from lock to the back row (where he replaces the injured Tyrone Holmes at No.7), meaning there are five changes up front and three changes amongst the backs to the side that went down 13-26 to the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The only player without Super Rugby experience in the WP line-up is flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, whilst, remarkably, after 13 Super Rugby matches and eight Tests for the Springboks, lock Eben Etzebeth will make his Absa Currie Cup debut for DHL Western Province.
“You’ve got to select your best possible side for the weekend,” said Coetzee this week.
“It’s completely different from last year, the mindset… everything. This is a crunch game for us (this weekend), last year we had to play the Pumas and we had already qualified for the semifinals. We have selected our best possible team to ensure we qualify for the semifinals.”
Meanwhile, another Springbok, wing/fullback Gio Aplon, rejoins the matchday 22 on the bench after recovering sufficiently from the ankle injury suffered against Griquas three weeks ago.
Aplon will be joined amongst the replacements by regular starters – and performers – up till now; Scarra Ntubeni, Brok Harris, De Kock Steenkamp, Jebb Sinclair, Louis Schreuder and Marcel Brache – giving DHL WP massive strike-power from the bench.
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (Captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Gio Aplon.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Aside from Pat Lambie’s inclusion in The Sharks starting line-up to face Griquas at Mr Price KINGS PARK on Friday evening, a host of Boks have been included to play off the bench.
Coach John Plumtree has had no hesitation in throwing five of his returning Springboks into the match 22, but the players who have taken The Sharks to top of the log get rewarded for their efforts this time in a team that shows minimal changes to the side that beat Free State last weekend.
A rotational change at scrumhalf sees Cobus Reinach and Charl McLeod swapping roles with Lambie named at flyhalf in place of Meyer Bosman who will play off the bench in the only two changes to the backline.
Amongst the forwards, the only change is enforced with Pieter Dixon out with a broken arm and Kyle Cooper starting where he ended off last week with Craig Burden providing back-up off the bench. Tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis adds further depth for the front row while Marcell Coetzee and Lwazi Mvovo are two more returning Boks to be included.
With The Sharks in the healthy position they find themselves, the potential is exciting. They do, however, face a tough encounter against a fired-up Griquas’ side and the addition of experienced players to boost the Durban side will no doubt be valuable.
“JP was massive for us last week in Bloemfontein and having some of that experience back at this crucial time is fantastic,” coach John Plumtree admits.
“We’ve looked at every individual’s different situation, obviously we have some who have played more than others. We’ve had long conversations with our Boks and we’ve got to make sure we do what’s best for the team, so we have chosen our side accordingly.”
The Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (Captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.
MTN Golden Lions
Veteran Springbok Butch James will lead a severely depleted Golden Lions team into battle against the Blue Bulls in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The 2007 World Cup winner, who will retired from all rugby at the end of the season, will captain the defending champions in their final Currie Cup league match of the season.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann, as reported by this website earlier this week, decided to rest most of his big guns for the semifinal next week.
The Lions and the table-topping Sharks have already qualified for the play-offs – with Western Province, Griquas, the Free State Cheetahs and the Bulls in a mad dash for the final two places.
The only returning Boks in the Lions squad this weekend are props CJ van der Linde and Pat Cilliers.
They have had almost no game time with the national team in the last month and are in need to some time on the pitch before the play-offs.
Van der Linde will play at loosehead, allowing Lions captain JC Janse van Rensburg with a much-needed break.
This is one of the eight changes, two of which are positional switches, to the starting side that lost to Griquas last week.
In the second of six changes to last weekend’s pack Cilliers takes over from Jacobie Adriaanse, who also gets a break. However, Adriaanse will be on the bench, unlike Janse van Rensburg, who gets a complete break.
Ruan Botha, who was to have replaced Franco van der Merwe at No.5 lock, injured his ankle at practice on Thursday and was replaced by Paul Willemse in the starting XV. Van der Merwe will now be on the bench.
Jaco Kriel taking over from Cobus Grobbelaar on the No.6 flank, with Derick Minnie coming off the bench in place of Kriel at No.7; Willie Britz gives Warren Whiteley a deserved break at No.8.
In the backline left wing Anthony Volmink replaces Ruan Combrinck, who moves to fullback in place of Andries Coetzee.
On the bench there are six changes. Prop Adriaanse replaces Caylib Oosthuizen; Paul Willemse comes in place of Britz who moved into the starting XV; Whiteley replaces Minnie, who also moved into the starting XV; Whestley Moolman replaces Guy Cronje as replacement scrumhalf. Two more Boks, Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe, will also be on the bench.
Jantjies played 50 minutes against New Zealand last week, while Mapoe saw no game time.
Jaco Taute, who has featured in the Bok starting XV in the last two Tests, is rested altogether.
Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Andrew James (Captain), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 CJ van der Linde
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.
Date: Saturday 13 October
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff