Cheetahs prepare to sharpen their claws ahead of tough outing against robust Blue Bulls
Having had a bye last weekend‚ the Cheetahs will start the Currie Cup campaign with the toughest possible assignment against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Blue Bulls‚ who captured the Super Rugby Unlocked trophy‚ are the current pacesetters in the Currie Cup following their win over Western Province at Newlands last weekend.
They will be a tough nut to crack on home soil this weekend‚ although the Cheetahs won't travel to Loftus as complete no-hopers.
The Bulls came through a particularly bruising north-south derby against Western Province and will be without loosehead prop Jacques van Rooyen who has copped a one match suspension for his no arms tackle on Warrick Gelant.
It was deemed to be an entry level offence which means he will only serve a one-match ban.
Unlike the Blue Bulls‚ the Cheetahs should go into the match refreshed following their bye.
Their last match was against the Griquas on November 21‚ but they do have a long injury list that includes Oupa Mohoje (hamstring)‚ Wilmar Arnoldi (cheek bone)‚ Reniel Hugo (knee)‚ Aranos Coetzee (ankle)‚ Ruan Pienaar (knee)‚ Craig Barry (knee)‚ Charles Marais (neck)‚ Hencus van Wyk (hamstring) and Aidon Davis (calf).
Victor Sekekete will this weekend be in the starting line-up for their first time in the Currie Cup‚ as will George Cronjé who'll be making his debut for the Cheetahs.
The Cheetahs‚ who are aiming for a top two spot‚ which will give them home ground advantage in the semifinals‚ will be desperate to come away with points at Loftus.
They are currently fourth on the points table‚ just one point ahead of the Golden Lions who have played one match more.
Should the Cheetahs lose to the Bulls‚ the Lions will have the opportunity to leapfrog them into fourth spot if they beat Western Province.
It will also lengthen the odds on the Cheetahs catching the second-placed Sharks who have 24 log points.
Cheetahs to play the Blue Bulls - Clayton Blommetjies; Rhyno Smith‚ Howard Mnisi‚ Frans Steyn‚ Rosko Specman; Tian Schoeman‚ Tian Meyer; Jeandré Rudolph‚ Victor Sekekete‚ Andisa Ntsila; Carl Wegner (captain)‚ Ian Groenewald‚ Khutha Mchunu‚ Reinach Venter‚ Boan Venter.
Substitutes: Jacques du Toit‚ Cameron Dawson‚ Erich de Jager‚ Chris Massyn‚ George Cronjé; Ruben de Haas‚ Reinhardt Fortuin‚ William Small-Smith.