Cheetahs

Erasmus brings in the ‘tall timber’

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Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus, shrugging off suggestions that he is playing mind-games with his selections, has revamped his loose forward combination to increase his line-out options for the Super 14 Round Three encounter with the Waratahs in Kimberley on Saturday.


Erasmus’s team shows several changes from that which eventually took to the field in the 24-20 loss to the Bulls last week – including the “injury-enforced” absence of veteran prop forward Ollie le Roux.


Erasmus said on Thursday that Le Roux is struggling with a bicep injury and could be sidelined for two weeks.


The most important changes, apart from Le Roux’s absence, is at loose forward.


Erasmus brought in Darren Nell at number eight for Ryno van der Merwe and Kabamba Floors on the flank for fellow Springbok Henro Scholtz.


The selection of Floors is another issue that has set the tongues wagging. He was named in the starting XV for both the Cheetahs First and Second Round matches, but at kick-off Van der Merwe ran out and Floors sat on the bench.


Erasmus said the decision to name Nell at number eight is to give him and extra line-out option, following the struggling performance of the Cheetahs line-out against the Bulls last week.


“Obviously they [the Waratahs] have a good line-out, they always have good jumpers,” Erasmus told this website.


“But it has as much to do with our performance [against the Bulls] last week. We struggled and I wanted an extra option.


“We now have Darren [Nell], Juan [Smith, the captain], Corniel [van Zyl] and Bian [Vermaak] [the locks] as our line-out options,” the Cheetahs coach said from the team’s base in Bloemfontein.


He added that decision not to start with Floors the past two weeks is because South African teams know him very well and he felt it would be better to use Floors in the role that he played when he became a Springbok last year – as an impact player in the last 40 minutes.


“He [Floors] is much better as an impact player later in the game against the local teams,” Erasmus said.


Erasmus also moved Phillip Burger from the wing to fullback in place of Tiger Mangweni, who is struggling with a rib injury. Eddie Fredericks comes in on the wing in the place vacated by Burger’s shift to number 15.


The Cheetahs coach scoffed at the suggestion that he was playing mind games by naming a team in midweek and then the team taking the field differs.


“I can’t understand what the fuss is about,” Erasmus told this website.


“We have done nothing that’s against the laws. There is a protocol by which the team manager must release a team an hour before the game.


“People ask me for a team in the week and I give them one. Why should I tell people who are going to play where? It is like asking me what my line-out calls are,” Erasmus said.


He added that the regulation of releasing the actual starting XV only an hour before kick-off is likely to change soon.


“They want to change it so that the actual team has to be named 24 hours in advance. But for now we are sticking with the protocol of releasing the formal team an hour before kick-off.”


Cheetahs:

15 Phillip Burger, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Ronnie Cooke, 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Darren Nell, 7 Juan Smith Juan (c), 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Corniel van Zyl, 4 Bian Vermaak, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wiaan du Preez
Replacements: 16 Richard Strauss, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Henro Scholtz, 19 Ryno van der Merwe, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Gavin Passens, 22Tiger Mangweni

Date: Saturday, 17 February
Venue: ABSA Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 16.00 (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Pro Legoete (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)


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