Herewith a team by team breakdown of the selected sides for this weekend’s Currie Cup Premier Division matches.
The Griquas have named their team to take on the Golden Lions at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday, with prop Janro van Niekerk and flank Wesley Wilkins both unavailable due to injury.
Van Niekerk will be replaced by Steph Roberts. Wilkins, who has failed to recover for a knee injury in time for the clash against the table-topping Lions, will be replaced by Justin Downey.
Meanwhile, in the only other change, veteran centre JP Nel replaces Walter Venter in the backline.
Griquas: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 JP Nel, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Rynhardt Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (Captain), 1 Steph Roberts
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Jaco Nepgen, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Walter Venter.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs:
Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has included regular lock Francois Uys in his loose-trio in place of injured Springbok veteran flanker Heinrich Brüssow for his side’s Currie Cup clash against the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Brüssow injured his shoulder in the Cheetahs’ victory over Griquas last weekend and will have to undergo a surgical procedure that will have him sidelined for at least six months.
Brüssow is one of five Cheetahs loose forwards currently unavailable, as Hendro Scholtz, who picked up a knock against the head last week, is also sidelined.
The Bloemfontein outfit will also be without Juan Smith (ankle), Kabamba Floors (knee), Boom Prinsloo (shoulder) and Frans Viljoen (arm) who are all unavailable due to injury.
This weekend the Cheetahs loose-trio will consist of Philip van der Walt, Uys and Lappies Labuschagne, with Davon Raubenheimer the only remaining loose forward on the bench.
Uys’s shift to flanker means that youngster Carl Wegner is promoted to the starting line-up, packing down with Izak van der Westhuizen at lock.
“It’s a difficult time with all the injured players not available, Drotské said on Wednesday.
“And now Heinrich’s absence comes as another shock. He will even miss some of our Super Rugby games next year.
“We now look towards the available players to put their hands up and perform.”
In another positional change, nippy back Raymond Rhule is moved from inside centre back to wing, with centre Andries Strauss slotting back into the midfield.
“We need to keep the momentum going that we got against the Griquas. The Sharks will be a difficult side to beat, but we need to put everything we have into that game,” Drotské added.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (Captain), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Francois Uys, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Marcel van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Rayno Benjamin.
Vodacom Blue Bulls:
Try-scoring record holder Bjorn Basson is back to bolster the Vodacom Blue Bulls ahead of their Absa Currie Cup match against the DHL Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The winger has now fully recovered from the effects of an operation following a tear to his intestines in the Vodacom Super Rugby play-off match between the Vodacom Bulls and Crusaders way back in May.
Basson, who improved the Vodacom Bulls try scoring record in a season in 2012, is also the South African record holder for tries in a Currie Cup season and his finishing ability will be welcomed by the Blue Bulls, who are with their backs against the wall in this year’s competition. He replaces Sampie Mastriet.
“It certainly is good to know Bjorn is fit and ready to go. He is a world class player and we will try to get the ball in his hands,” Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said in Pretoria on Tuesday in announcing his team.
The late call-up of Arno Botha to the Springboks squad again results in a new loose trio combination for the WP match. Jean Cook slots in at number seven to replace his former SA U.20 team mate, while Dean Greyling has been bracketed with Mornè Mellett at loosehead in the only other change to the team that came so close in beating The Sharks last weekend.
Greyling just returned from a two week suspension picked up while playing for the Springboks in Dunedin against the All Blacks. A final call on who will start in the number one jersey will be made later in the week.
Chiliboy Ralepelle makes a welcome return to the side after recovering from a knee injury and will play off the bench for his first Currie Cup action of the year. He replaces Bongi Mbonambi.
“We are not out of the competition yet and that is a positive for us. We realise though that only our very best efforts over the last two weeks will get us into a possible play-off spot and that is what I am expecting of the team – their very best,” Pienaar said.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Dewald Potgieter (Captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett / Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjè, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
DHL Western Province:
DHL Western Province head coach Allister Coetzee has named his team for Friday’s Absa Currie Cup clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria (19:10).
Coetzee has made just one change to the starting XV from last week, with Nic Groom and Louis Schreuder rotating at scrumhalf.
The DHL WP boss has also opted for a five-two forwards split on the bench, with loose forward JJ Gagiano replacing centre Berton Klaasen in the matchday 22.
Unfortunately, flanker Rynhardt Elstadt – who was due to make his return from a rib cartilage injury this week – was not considered for selection, after suffering a recurrence of his injury.
Elstadt woke up in discomfort on Tuesday morning, after team training on Monday, and after being sent for a scan it was decided to withdraw him from the selection frame for this weekend.
Western Province might have beaten the Blue Bulls 42-6 in their previous Absa Currie Cup encounter this season (just over a month ago), but coach Coetzee warned that a far tougher Bulls outfit would be waiting for his team at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
Said Coetzee: “They’re definitely a desperate side and I can tell you that they’ll come out firing in what will be a tough game for us.
“The Bulls are a proud union, this is unfamiliar territory for them. We really expect nothing less than the game of the season for them. It’s a big challenge and it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (Captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 JJ Gagiano, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Pat Howard.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
The Sharks, bolstered by the return of JP Pietersen at wing, travel to Bloemfontein this weekend to take on an embattled Free State Cheetahs side that is missing a number of players to injury.
Heinrich Brussow is out for the next six months after injuring a shoulder in last week’s match and he joins four other loosies on the side-lines (Juan Smith, Kabamba Floors, Boom Prinsloo and Frans Viljoen).
Free State, currently in fourth spot on the log, are fighting to remain in the top four, will certainly provide stern opposition to The Sharks who haven’t always found Bloemfontein a very happy hunting ground. In the last couple of years, The Sharks have managed wins there to suggest that victory is possible which would boost their campaign aims and take them a step closer to finishing top of the log.
“We know we’ve come unstuck against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in the past,” explains Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards, “but we’ve also learnt how to get a winning result there in recent times.
“It’s a massive game for both sides and it should be a great clash.”
Louis Ludik starts at fullback while Meyer Bosman is named to take over from Riaan Viljoen at flyhalf – where he was named last week, before the conditions dictated a change in style and Viljoen was moved there, but has been named on the bench this weekend to accommodate the changes.
Charl McLeod’s experience at scrumhalf will be called into play for this big match where he starts ahead of the exciting Cobus Reinach in a straight rotational switch.
In the only change to the pack, Steven Sykes is out with Jandre Marais taking his place in the second row. On the bench Julian Redelinghuys slips out of the team with Allan Dell given an opportunity out of the Under 21 ranks.
The Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Meyer Bosman, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (Captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Tera Mtembu, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 S’bura Sithole.
MTN Golden Lions
The Golden Lions have had to shuffle their backline for their Currie Cup encounter with Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Michael Bondesio has been ruled out due to a calf injury and Ross Cronje makes it into the starting lineup in his place.
Experienced wing Deon van Rensburg will start at outside centre for Lionel Mapoe who has been called up to the Springbok squad and Alwyn Hollenbach makes a return from injury at inside centre with Dylan Des Fountain dropping to the bench.
Despite picking up an away win over Western Province last week, captain JC Janse van Rensburg said that there are still some areas in which the log leaders could improve.
“We’ve worked very hard on our defence and our set-phases because they’re [Griquas] a very good team in the set-phases,” Van Rensburg said.
The skipper said his side were already aiming to secure a home semifinal after a run of morale-boosting victories in recent weeks.
“The mood in the camp is excellent but it can change so quickly if we go to Griquas and we don’t win that game,” Van Rensburg said.
“It’s a very important game for us and them. For us we’re working towards a home semifinal. We’re just focussing on what we want to do against them and not make the same mistakes we made earlier in the season,” he added.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon Van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Butch James, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco Van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse Van Rensburg (Captain)
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Guy Cronje, 21 Dylan Des Fountain, 22 James Kamana.
Date: Saturday 6 October
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 14:00 SA Time (12:00 GMT)