Andries Ferreira in training.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has made three changes to the starting line-up for his side's Super Rugby game against the Waratahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Lock George Earle, who announced his move to Welsh club Llanelli Scarlets earlier this week, gets a rest after he endured concussion in the home side's local derby against the Sharks last week.

Earle is replaced by Andries Ferreira, who has been on the bench for the Cheetahs' last couple of games.

Drotske has also promoted burly eighthman Ashley Johnson and Griquas winger Rocco Jansen to the starting line-up.

Johnson will start at flanker, with Justin Downey relegated to the bench, while Jansen comes in for Cameron Jacobs, who has been scrapped from the match 22 altogether.

Vodacom Cup lock Francois Uys has been included on the bench.

Ferreira will partner with Izak van der Westhuizen – another Cheetahs stalwart who has announced his departure to Scottish club Edinburgh at the end of the season – in the second row and will look to impress Drotske with a place in the Cheetahs' Currie Cup side also up for grabs.

The hosts are desperate for log points as they look to distance themselves from the log bottom Lions, who face possible relegation from the competition as the SA Rugby Union's 2013 conundrum continues.

And the Cheetahs have deemed a victory crucial if they want to keep their dream of ending among the top six teams alive.

“It's still a long way to go. We've got a home game against the Waratahs and after that we have a bye before the four-week break for the Test series against England,” Drotske said on Wednesday.

“Then there are still three games to be played against some of the teams that are also in the running for that sixth place.

“Yes, some teams have to win and others must lose for us to benefit, but we can better our chances by beating the Waratahs.”

The Cheetahs had ample opportunity to cause an upset against the Sharks, but ultimately did not use the chances that came their way in a 34-20 defeat.

“At Super Rugby level you get a minimum amount of chances to swing the outcome in your favour,” Drotske said.

“We will have to capitalise on all points scoring opportunities against the Waratahs.”

Cheetahs team: Hennie Daniller, Rocco Jansen, Robert Ebersohn, Andries Strauss, Willie le Roux, Riaan Smit, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Ashley Johnson, Heinrich Brussow, Andries Ferreira, Izak van der Westhuizen, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: Hercu Liebenberg, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Uys, Justin Downey, Tewis de Bruyn, Sias Ebersohn, Philip Snyman. – Sapa