Bloemfontein – Free State Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has made two changes to his starting line-up for their tough Currie Cup encounter against the Griquas at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday.
After their narrow loss to Western Province last weekend, the Cheetahs are desperate for a victory against the Kimberley outfit, and Drotske has chosen his strongest available team to face the Peacock Blues.
With goal-kicker Riaan Smit out of action due to a hamstring injury, Drotske has opted to bring back Springbok winger Raymond Rhule after he was excluded from the match against Province because of a dip in form.
Rhule moves into Smit's place, with Piet Lindeque moving to the opposite wing for the Kimberley clash.
“Riaan's loss is a big one, specially because he has been our main goal-kicker thus far,” Drotske said on Thursday.
“Raymond comes back into the side and we are looking for something good from his side.”
The coach also included lock Francois Uys in his starting line-up after the lanky forward recovered from a lengthy shoulder injury.
With Uys's inclusion, Drotske partnered him with Lood de Jager, to re-establish the Super Rugby combination that helped the Cheetahs to their best finish in the tournament to date.
De Jager replaces Freddie Ngoza, who is relegated to the replacements' bench.
“It is good to have Francois back. He did well as impact player against Western Province and deserves another shot,” Drotske added.
“He and Lood will again partner to help us in both the line-outs and scrums.”
Another positive for the Bloemfontein side is the return of loose forward Philip van der Walt, after recovering from a shoulder injury.
Van der Walt has been included on the replacements' bench and looks set to earn a shot against their neighbouring union.
Van der Walt replaces Davon Raubenheimer, who has been left out of the squad.
Centre Joubert Engelbrecht can also be used as impact player after a good stint with the Griffons in the First Division of the Currie Cup.
Cheetahs team: Hennie Daniller, Piet Lindeque, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius, Boom Prinsloo (captain), Teboho Mohoje, Lappies Labuschagne, Lood de Jager, Francois Uys, Trevor Nyakane, Hercu Liebenberg, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: AJ le Roux, Rossouw de Klerk, Freddie Ngoza, Philip van der Walt, Piet van Zyl, Willie du Plessis, Joubert Engelbrecht. – Sapa