Erasmus reshuffles his backline

Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus has reshuffled his entire backline as he gears for the all-South African derby against the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

While the forwards remained virtually unchanged – Richardt Strauss coming in for his injured cousin Adriaan at hooker – the backline shows four changes, including a positional switch.

Sevens flyer Philip Burger, one of the most exciting prospects in the country with ball in hand, returns to the side on the right wing in place of Eddie Fredericks.

The new centre pairing is Ronnie Cooke, who moves in one place from the left wing, and Herkie Kruger, who played at fly-half in the first few weeks. Both Cooke and Kruger were stars for Griquas in the midfield during last year’s Currie Cup season. Cooke also played outside centre for the Cheetahs for most of their 2006 Super 14 campaign.

Falling out of favour is Springbok Marius Joubert and fellow Bok Meyer Bosman. Both made promising starts to the season, but have struggled in recent weeks and are probably in need of a break.

Fredericks moves from the right wing to the left wing position, the position in which Bosman played last week.

The Cheetahs will defend an unbeaten record against in the Sharks in Super Rugby at Vodacompark in Bloemfontein, when the two sides meet on Saturday.

They defeated the Sharks 45-40 in 1997, with MJ Smith (current backline coach Franco’s brother) kicking seven penalties to secure a victory in this high scoring match. Last year the Cheetahs won by a solitary point – 27-26.

From 1998 to 2005 (inclusive of those years) the Cheetahs formed part of the Cats franchise.

Cheetahs: 15 Tiger Mangweni, 14 Philip Burger, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Herkie Kruger, 11 Eddie Fredericks, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Ryno van der Merwe, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Henro Scholtz, 5 Corniel van Zyl, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Richard Strauss, 1 Os du Randt.
Replacements: 16 Ollie le Roux, 17 Wiaan du Preez, 18 Dwayne Vermeulen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Falie Oelschig, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Gavin Passens

Date: Saturday, 10 March
Venue: Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: JC Fortuin (South Africa)
Touch judges: Phillip Bosch (South Africa), Pro Legoete (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Assessor: Tappe Henning (South Africa), Brendan McCormick (Australia)

365 Digital

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