Henderson goes Cheetah hunting

Loosehead prop Nic Henderson will return to the Brumbies’ starting front row to take on the Cheetahs in their Super 14 Week Seven match at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Henderson began last week’s match against the Stormers off the bench as part of coach Laurie Fisher’s front row rotation. Fellow prop Salesi Ma’afu also returns to the matchday 22, after being rested for last weekend’s game.

Henderson says he’s looking forward to returning to the Brumbies’ run-on side.

“It’s definitely every player’s goal to be part of the starting XV,” he said.

“But in saying that, there’s 14 tough weeks of footy to get through and if there’s a week where you don’t have to take in the mental load of starting and can have that little break on the bench then it’s definitely a plus down the track.

“We’ve got three weeks in Africa against three of the biggest packs in the competition so it’s nice to feel refreshed going into a what will be a very, very tough month of footy.”

The 25-year-old rejoins Guy Shepherdson and Jeremy Paul in an all-Wallaby front row that will face an experienced Cheetahs pack minus South African Test tighthead prop CJ van der Linde, who is expected to miss the remainder of the Super 14 with a calf injury.

“I think the absence of any 130-kilogram Springbok in their front row is a loss,” Henderson said.

“But they’ve probably got a production line of props ready to step up to fill the gap. I know the Cheetahs have been playing with four props all season, so they’ve got three guys there who’ve still played every game for them. So I don’t think they should have too much trouble finding quality coverage [for Van der Linde].”

Fisher says he is pleased to have Henderson return to the starting XV.

“The Cheetahs are a very, very strong scrummaging team and even though they’ve lost CJ van der Linde, they’ve still got Os du Randt and a very strong pack of forwards,” he said.

“We need to be improving our scrummaging, it was okay last week but it’s an important area of the game for us to get set piece ball.

“I thought John Ulugia was very good for us in his starting debut [against the Stormers] and it’s good to know that we have a genuine fourth alternative in the front row. But having what you would say is near our full-strength pack this week, with [Daniel] Heenan and [Alister] Campbell injured, is very important for us.”

Henderson’s inclusion is the sole change to the Brumbies’ Week Six starting side that defeated the Stormers 26-13 at Canberra Stadium. Outside back Peter Playford joins Ma’afu as the only additions to the Brumbies’ bench.

Fisher says he is keen for his side to build on last weekend’s win over the Cape Town-based side.

“We made some improvements in the directness of our forward running and the gain line we got through our forwards and we’ll be looking to take that forward again,” he said.

“We’ll be looking for our forwards to get a bit harder and a bit straighter, we’ll be looking for some good recycled ball and try to provide a bit of room for our backs to move.”

Brumbies: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Gene Fairbanks, 11 Mark Gerrard, 10 Julian Huxley, 9 George Gregan, 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 George Smith, 6 Julian Salvi, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Jeremy Paul, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Salesi Ma’afu, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Jone Tawake, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Peter Playford, 22 Francis Fainifo

Date: Saturday, 17 March
Venue: Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein:
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Gareth Lloyd-Jones (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Assessor: Tappe Henning (South

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