Le Roux leads Cheetah cubs into battle



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Veteran Springbok prop Ollie le Roux will lead a very young and inexperienced Cheetahs team into battle in their Super 14 Round 10 match against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.

Injuries forced the coaching staff to make a host of changes, with one or two tactical switches thrown in for good measure.

Le Roux takes over the captaincy from the injured Juan Smith, knock to the knee- in a team that shows nine changes from that which lost 17-21 to the Highlanders last week.

Assistant coach Naka Drotske said most of the injured players were 50-50 cases.

“We simply did not want to take any chances,” he told this website from the team’s base in Auckland.

“If you risk them now, they could miss the next two games, so we’ll take the conservative approach,” he added.

The backline shows four changes, including some tactical switches, from last week.

Springbok Marius Joubert comes in at outside centre for Ronnie Cooke, who has an upper arm muscle injury.

The other changes are tactical.

Tiger Mangweni is on the left wing for Gavin Passens, Herkie Kruger starts at fly-half for the first time in over a month and Willem de Waal drops down to the replacement bench, while Springbok Michael Claassens starts at scrum-half ahead of Falie Oelschig.

The changes in the pack are mostly injury related.

Number eight Ryno van der Merwe has a neck injury and Kabamba Floors moves to eighthman, while Duane Vermeulen and Heinrich Brussouw are the new flanks – with Juan Smith out injured (knee).

At hooker Hans van Dyk, a former Leopards star who joined Griquas this year, starts ahead of Richardt Strauss. Strauss is on the bench, but Drotske confirmed that he has a shoulder injury and Van Dyk is likely to play most of the game.

The final change sees Le Roux coming in at loosehead prop in place of Wian du Preez and takes over the captaincy. Du Preez drops down to the bench.

For the second time this week Drotsk’ of the game as his team’s “toughest test on tour”, not just because of the injuries, but also because of the qualities of the table-topping Blues outfit.

“The Blues’ record speaks for itself, especially in Auckland,” Drotsk’ said.

“They are a well balanced team – with a powerful set of forwards and some incredible game breakers in the backs. They are also very physical, so it will be our toughest test without doubt.

“Add to that our injuries and we know it will be a real test of character for the youngsters – players like Hans van Dyk, Duane Vermeulen and Heinrich Brussow.

“These are guys that are very young and are being thrown in at the deep end. We’ll have to se how they handle it, but we’re confident they will come through with flying colours,” Drotsk’ added.

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

Date: Friday, 6 April
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Paul Marks (Australia)
Touch judges: Dan Cheever (Australia), Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Dennis Immelman (South Africa)

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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