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Bloemfontein – Free State Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan welcomes back his two experienced players for a Currie Cup encounter against the Griquas on Saturday afternoon in Bloemfontein.
Although still without the injured Coenie and Caylib Oosthuizen, as well as numerous other Super Rugby players involved with the national side, the Cheetahs were bolstered by the return of two vital players.
Flanker Jean Cook and fly half Elgar Watts, both with Super Rugby experience, were included in the run-on side for the local derby.
Cook replaced Neil Claassen, who was relegated to the bench, while Watts came in for Willie du Plessis in the number 10 jersey.
Last week's loss against the Pumas in Nelspruit was one the Cheetahs felt they could have won, had the bounce of the ball gone their way. Duncan said they were determined to use the Griquas game to rectify their wrongs.
“Both our games Ä the warm-up against the Kings and the match against the Pumas – were away fixtures. It will be nice for the guys to have a home game as they haven't played together in the Free State Stadium,” Duncan said.
“It is always nice running out on your home ground and one thing I can tell you is the guys are fired up for the game against Griquas. They want to rectify the mistakes we made against the Pumas. The guys are very keen.”
In some changes to the reserves, experienced prop Bees Roux was left out while youngster Rudolph Botha was included alongside AJ le Roux. Le Roux replaced hooker Hercu Liebenberg as the impact player was struggling with a knee injury.
Super Rugby scrumhalf Shaun Venter was also given a chance and replaced Renier Botha after recovering form an foot injury.
Cheetahs: AJ Coertzen, Rayno Benjamin, Francois Venter, Joubert Engelbrecht, Raymond Rhule, Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius, Boom Prinsloo, Jean Cook, Tienie Burger, Francois Uys, Carl Wegner, Luan de Bruin, Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), Kevin Stevens. Replacements: AJ le Roux, Rudolph Botha, Niel Claassen, Waltie Vermeulen, Shaun Venter, Willie du Plessis, JP du Plessis. – Sapa