Cheetahs change three for Blues

Date published: March 19 2014

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Blues in Auckland.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Blues.

In two injury-forced tweaks, Drotské has decided to start regular wing Rayno Benjamin at centre in place of Francois Venter, while full-back Hennie Daniller comes in at wing for the injured Raymond Rhule.

Among the forwards, Jean Cook replaces Lappies Labuschagne in a tactical change with the latter relegated to the replacements bench.

Griquas centre Howard Mnisi, who has yet to make his Super Rugby debut, comes into the matchday 23 as midfield cover.

Venter is already back in South Africa recovering from a shoulder injury he sustained against the Hurricanes last weekend in Wellington.

Rhule is also struggling with an ankle injury from the same game.

Cook's inclusion comes as no surprise as he will add some much-needed grunt to the Cheetahs' pack up front.

“We are disappointed with how the tour has gone thus far and will be out to finish on a high note against the Blues,” said Drotské.

“That being said, we know it is going to be a difficult game.”

Venter's absence is a big blow for the Cheetahs, specially after losing Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen to a neck injury earlier in the season.

The former Bulls centre gave the Bloemfontein-based side more options on attack and also orchestrated their defence, which at times looked vulnerable against the Hurricanes.

The match will have extra significance for Cheetahs skipper Adriaan Strauss, who will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance.

Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Hennie Daniller, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Lappies Labuschagne, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Howard Mnisi.

Date: Saturday, March 22
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 local (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)