Injury-ravaged Cheetahs forced to change
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has been forced to make a number of changes to the side that will take on the Sunwolves in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Francois Uys come into the side at lock, in place of Reniel Hugo - who will sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Charles Marais will start as prop, replacing Retshegofaditswe Nche - who sustained a Grade One tear to his knee cartilage and will be sidelined for 10 to 14 days.
Springbok Uzair Cassiem (grade two knee ligament tear) will be sidelined for a month and has been replaced by Paul Schoeman - who will be starting at No.6. Neill Jordaan will start at No.8.
Sevens Bok Ryno Benjamin moves to outside centre, replacing the injured Nico Lee (shoulder) - who may miss only this week's match.
Clinton Swart has recovered from his rib injury and will start alongside Benjamin in the revamped midfield.
Zee Mkhabela will be starting on right wing in Benjamin's place.
Tom Botha, Armandt Koster and Henco Venter, Ali Mgijima and Ruan van Rensburg are new on the bench.
Mgijima will be making his Super Rugby debut if he comes off the bench.
Despite the injuries, the Cheetahs will remain confident of beating the struggling Sunwolves at home.
The Japanese team started their season with an 17-83 loss to the Hurricanes, before losing 23-37 to the Kings in Singapore at the weekend.
Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is confident they will overcome their injury woes.
"We knew from the start that injuries would be a part of it so we're going to just fight through it," he said.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Zee Mkhabela, 13 Ryno Benjamin, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain) , 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Danie Mienie, 17 Elandre Huggett, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Armandt Koster, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Ruan van Rensburg.
Date: Saturday, March 11
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 GMT; 00.15, Sunday, March 12 Japan time)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)