Johannesburg – Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has made three changes to his starting line up for the last of their overseas Super Rugby matches, against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.
In two injury-forced changes, Drotské has decided to start regular winger Rayno Benjamin at centre in place of Francois Venter, while full back Hennie Daniller comes in at wing for the injured Raymond Rhule.
Among the forwards, Jean Cook replaces Lappies Labuschagne in a tactical change with the latter relegated to the replacement bench.
Griquas centre Howard Mnisi, who has yet to make his Super Rugby début, comes in as cover for the midfield.
Venter is already back in South Africa recovering from a shoulder injury he sustained against the Hurricanes last weekend in Wellington.
Rhule is also struggling with an ankle injury from the same game.
Cook's inclusion comes as no surprise as he will add some much-needed grunt to the Cheetahs' pack upfront.
“We are disappointed with how the tour has gone thus far and will be out to finish on a high note against the Blues. That being said, we know it is going to be a difficult game,” Drotské said.
Venter's absence is a big blow for the Cheetahs, specially after losing Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen to a neck injury earlier in the season.
Venter gave the Bloemfontein-based side more options on attack and also orchestrated their defence, which at times looked vulnerable against the Hurricanes.
Adriaan Strauss plays his 50th Super Rugby game and the Cheetahs will want to give their spirited leader a welcome gift.
The Cheetahs team: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Johann Sadie, Rayno Benjamin, Hennie Daniller, Johan Goosen, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Jean Cook, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Nicolaas van Dyk, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Rossouw de Klerk, Andries Ferreira, Lappies Labuschagne, Shaun Venter, Elgar Watts, Howard Mnisi. – Sapa