Super Rugby: Naka Drotske names Cheetahs team for Lions opener
Last Updated: 15/02/14 9:42pm
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has named his starting XV for their Super Rugby curtain-raiser against the Lions in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
With the Lions returning to Super Rugby after a season-long absence, Drotske expects their hunger to be greater than ever.
The Cheetahs coach is prepared for a stern test on the opening weekend of the South African conference as he names a full strength starting XV.
"It is good to have them back, but they will be a dangerous team, there is no doubt about that," said Drotske.
"South African derbies in the competition are always important and also very risky.
"We've seen the underdogs beating the home side on quite a few occasions in the past so we are well aware of the threat they pose."
Springbok full back Willie le Roux is included as the Cheetahs benefit from a fully sit squad for the start of their campaign.
Fellow international Johan Goosen, who sustained knee ligament damage against the Waratahs last term, makes a long-awaited return to the side after an injury lay-off. Shaun Venter joins the Springbok to form the Cheetahs axis partnership.
New signing Francis Venter, who joined from the Bulls during the off-season, will make his bow in the midfield, inside centre Johann Sadie.
Caylib Oosthuizen's pre-season form earns him a call-up at loosehead prop ahead of Spingbok Trevor Nyakane, who Drotske has called to prove his credentials when given the opportunity.
"Trevor will definitely play in the second half against the Lions as an impact player," Drotske said.
"We gave Caylib the start based on the fact that he was the better of the two in the warm-up games.
"South African derbies in the competition are always important and also very risky...We are well aware of the threat they pose."
"It is purely a decision made on merit and gives Trevor the opportunity to come on in the second half and show that he wants to start in the next game."
Flanker Boom Prinsloo has been named in the starting XV, while former Bulls loose forward Jean Cook could make an appearance off the bench.
"Boom played very well in the warm-up game against the Pumas," the Cheetahs coach added.
"He made a couple of crucial turnovers on the ground and we will need that sort of thing against the Lions.
"The Lions like to attack from the wider channels and if we can slow down their possession and turn it over, that will definitely benefit us."
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (capt), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 4 Lood de Jager, 5 Francois Uys, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 8 Philip van der Walt.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Ligtoring Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Rayno Benjamin.