Marais gets pivotal role against Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Niel Marais will start at flyhalf when the Free State Cheetahs take on the Golden Lions in a Currie Cup Premier Division match at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
Marais replaces Fred Zeilinga, who started in the Cheetahs' 38-30 win over the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
In other changes to the backline, Shaun Venter replaces Tian Meyer at scrumhalf and William Small-Smith returns to the starting team in place of Michael van der Spuy.
With Meyer on the bench, hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld takes over the captaincy.
The Cheetahs are sitting pretty at the top of the standings after five wins from five and they are the only unbeaten side left in the tournament.
The Lions are fifth on standings and are coming off an impressive 58-32 win over Western Province in Johannesburg last weekend.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Nico Lee, 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco venter, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten Van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Armandt Koster, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Fred Zeilinga.
Date: Thursday, September 15
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Jaco Kotze
TMO: JJ Wagner