Cheetah young guns face Highlanders veterans

With neither of their Springboks props, Os du Randt and CJ van der Linde, available the Cheetahs’ young guns will go up against one of the most experienced front rows in Super 14 rugby when they face the Highlanders on Friday.

The Cheetahs team for this Round Nine encounter at Rugby Park in Invercargill shows just three changes from the side that recorded an impressive 38-20 victory over the Brumbies a fortnight ago – the Cheetahs’ last game before their bye week last week.

Eddie Fredericks comes in for Philip Burger on the right wing as coach Rassie Erasmus continues to “rotate” his players to keep them all fresh.

Kabamba Floors start on the flank in place of Hendro Scholtz in another rotation and Wian du Preez is at loosehead prop for veteran Os du Randt – who, as part of an agreement with the national coach Jake White, did accompany the Cheetahs on their four-week Australasian tour.

While the changes are minimal and part of the team’s normal rotational policy, the front row hold much significance in this game.

The Cheetahs will field a front row that has no Tests experience, less than 40 Super 14 games between them and an average age of just 23.

Compare this with a front row that features veteran All Blacks Carl Hayman (27 years of age; 35 Tests and 75 Super 14 games), Anton Oliver (31; 51 Tests, 121 Super 14 games) and Clarke Dermody (26; three tests, 35 Super 14 games).

Oliver alone has more experience than the entire Cheetahs front row.

No doubt the Cheetahs could have done with the experience of an Os du Randt (34; 70 Tests and 50 plus Super 14 games).

But they have stuck to their agreement they have with the Bok coach and Du Randt did not accompany them on tour.

“Yes, we do have an agreement with Jake White that we won’t take him [Os du Randt] on tour if we don’t need him,” assistant coach Franco Smith told this website.

“At this stage there is still the possibility that we could bring him on tour later, if there’s any major injuries. However, at the stage we don’t have any injuries at prop and he deserves to have a break after some tough games.

“We want to help Jake [White, the Bok coach] where we can in that regard,” Smith added.

The Cheetahs’ other Bok prop, CJ van der Linde, has been ruled out for the rest of the Super 14 competition. Van der Linde tore his calf muscle in the Cheetahs loss to the Sharks in Week Six.

Cheetahs: 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Gavin Passens, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Ryno van der Merwe, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Rory Duncan, 4 Corniel van Zyl, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez
Replacements: 16 Ollie le Roux, 17 Hans van Dyk, 18 Dewald Senekal, 19 Duane Vermeulen, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Philip Burger

Date: Friday, 30 March
Venue: Rugby Park, Invercargill
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Touch judges: Geoff Acton (Australia), Brent Murray (New Zealand)
Television match official: Gary Wise (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Keith Hendricks (South Africa)


365 Digital

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