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Cheetahs lose star player ahead of Loftus trip

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie has been forced into leaving his star playmaker behind when they left Bloemfontein, en route to Pretoria, on Friday.

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Having already secured home-ground advantage in the semifinals, the Cheetahs tackle the Bulls in a Round 14 Currie Cup outing at Loftus Versfeld.

Sibabalo Masuku replaced Ruan Pienaar at flyhalf.

Pienaar has remained behind in Bloemfontein due to a family bereavement.

“I have sympathy with Ruan and his family, and we support him,” Fourie said.

“For the Cheetahs, it is important to put the family first,” the coach added.

Louis van der Westhuizen, who became a father this week, will cover the bench for Marnus van der Merwe.

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Zinedine Booysen is new on the bench.

“It was a massive win for us, to secure a home semifinal,” assistant coach Izak van der Westhuizen said after the win over the Pumas last weekend.

“We must just keep on building the momentum we got last weekend.

“It’s a big game, and it’s not going to be easy to play against the Bulls at home.”

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Apart from Pienaar’s absence, several other players remain sidelined with injuries – including Enver Brandt (knee), Frans Steyn (knee), Aranos Coetzee (quad), Munier Hartzenberg (knee) and Branden de Kock (knee).

Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Reinhardt Fortuin, 11 Cohen Jasper, 10 Sibabalo Masuku, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Friedle Olivier, 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jeandre Rudolph, 20 George Cronje, 21 Daniel Maartens, 22 Zinedine Booysen, 23 Robert Ebersohn.

Date: Saturday, June 10
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: AM Jacobs
Assistant referees: Phumzile Mbewu, Jonathan Lottering
TMO: Aimee Barrett-Theron

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