Johannesburg – Free State Cheetahs' coach Naka Drotske has appointed stalwart centre Robert Ebersohn as his captain for the Bloemfontein-based side's first Currie Cup rugby clash on Saturday, against the Lions in Johannesburg.
With regular captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss involved with the Springboks for the coming Rugby Championships, Drotske handed Ebersohn the captain's armband.
Ebersohn had solid performances in the Super Rugby competition.
“Robert (Ebersohn) has proven himself as a very good leader. He was school captain of Grey College and I believe he will fit into Adriaan's role with ease,” Drotske said.
The Cheetahs played a friendly last week against visiting Welsh side Cardiff Blues in Bloemfontein, and Drotske said it was clear the Cheetahs needed some fine-tuning before their outing in Johannesburg.
“We didn't play well against Cardiff. Our defence was very poor, especially in the first half,” he said.
“But the players showed what they are capable of. Some of them more than others. It also gave us a pretty good idea of problem areas that we still need to attend to.”
South African under-20 wing Raymond Rhule is one of the surprise inclusions, while Boom Prinsloo has been entrusted with the number six jersey in the absence of injured Springbok flank Heinrich Brussow.
Rhule was preferred ahead of Philip Snyman. Drotske also opted for Nico Scheepers at wing in place of Cameron Jacobs.
Lock Waltie Vermeulen, who missed most of the Super Rugby competition because of his studies, replaces injured Andries Ferreira and full-back Hennie Daniller has recovered from a broken thumb and will team up with Rhule and Scheepers to form the back three.
Cheetahs team: Hennie Daniller, Nico Scheepers, Robert Ebersohn (capt), Andries Strauss, Raymond Rhule, Riaan Smit, Pieter van Zyl, Davon Raubenheimer, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Izak van der Westhuizen, Waltie Vermeulen, Marcel van der Merwe, Hercu Liebenberg, Trevor Nyakane. – Sapa