Cheetahs makes changes for Connacht clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Cheetahs head coach Franco Smith has named his team for their Pro14 clash against Connacht in Ireland.
Dries Swanepoel will be starting his first game for the Cheetahs. He replaces the injured Benhard Janse van Rensburg.
Louis Fouche moves to fullback to replace the injured Malcolm Jaer.
Ox Nche returns to action after sustaining a last-minute injury before the match against the Southern Kings. Marnus van der Merwe will be playing his first game in the starting line-up, with Reinach Venter providing cover on the bench.
Jasper Wiese and JP du Preez will be the lock combination, while Sintu Manjezi and Walt Steenkamp will be on the bench.
Henco Venter will be making his return for the Cheetahs after playing for the Toshiba Brave Lupus in the Japanese Top League. His last game for the Cheetahs was in the Pro14 final series against Scarlets last year.
Due to problems with his visa, Tapiwa Mafura could not travel with the team to Ireland. He is expected to join the team in Cardiff next week.
The following players are not eligible for team selection due to injury: Oupa Mohoje (knee), Jamba Ulenga (neck), Joseph Dweba (hamstring), Malcolm Jaer (knee), Benhard Janse van Rensburg (concussion), Aidon Davis (broken leg).
“There are a couple of new players on tour, like Henco Venter, Jacques du Toit and Marnus van der Merwe and others who will bring new energy and new creativity to the team,” said Smith.
“We need to learn how to be more focused, especially thinking of the last three tries conceded against the Southern Kings. We would like to come back from tour with a more experience and apply what we’ve learned so far.
“We have a good team. Players in the team work hard, especially with the new players in the squad. After the last four matches, the hunger is back, the urgency to be the best in their positions – the competitiveness is back and intensity at training is very high.”
Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Stephen Fitzgerald, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan 17 Peter McCabe 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Cillian Gallagher, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Kyle Godwin.
Cheetahs: 15 Louis Fouche, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (captain), 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Jasper Wiese, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Walt Steenkamp, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Rudy Paige.
Date: Saturday, February 16
Venue: The Sportsground, Galway
Kick-off: 17.30 (17.30 GMT; 19.30 SA time)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Johnny Lacey (Ireland), Mike English (Wales)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)