Cheetahs opt for sevens player Demas ahead of Bok Nokwe

2009-10-29 00:00

SPRINGBOK wing and prolific try-scorer Jongi Nokwe will play no part in the Currie Cup final after he was yesterday omitted from the 22-man Free State Cheetahs squad to face the Blue Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.

A second Springbok, flank Hendro Scholtz, has also failed to make the match 22 for the Pretoria clash.

Free State coach Naka Drotské has reservations about Nokwe’s ability to handle the high ball and he expects the Bulls halfbacks, Fourie du Preez and Morné Steyn, to make liberal use of the boot on Saturday.

Drotské has also rushed hooker Adriaan Strauss back into the starting line-up and he will take over the Free State captaincy from lock Nico Breedt.

Strauss broke his thumb five weeks ago and it was thought his season was over, but he returned to action last week and has been preferred to his cousin Richardt at hooker.

Strauss initially took over as captain after injuries sidelined senior players Juan Smith, Hendro Scholtz and Meyer Bosman and the hooker helped spark the Freee State revival after their four successive defeats at the start of the Currie Cup.

“He was the captain when we managed to turn the season around and he is a quality player. It’s good to have him back and our line-out will be better because of his accurate throwing,” Drotske told reporters yesterday.

Richardt Strauss has also been cleared fit after suffering an eye injury against the Sharks in the semi-final and will provide cover off the bench, resulting in Scholtz dropping out of the match 22.

Against the Sharks, and after Richardt Strauss had left the field, number eight Ashley Johnson was forced to pack down in the front-row as the Cheetahs had no reserve hooker on the bench.

Drotske admitted that selection had been difficult.

“I feel sorry for Hendro who has played over 100 games for Free State, but we couldn’t use Ashley [Johnson] as our reserve hooker again. I had to then choose between Hendro and Kabamba Floors as the loose forward replacement and we believe Kabamba is more of an impact player.”

It was expected that Nokwe would return to the starting line-up after he was a late exclusion — because of the threat of rain — from the semi-final against the Sharks in Durban.

Drotské said that Nokwe’s omission from the final was “purely tactical”.

“The Bulls have a strong kicking game and they will use that in the final. Lionel [Mapoe] and Jongi Nokwe are not strong with the boot, but Lionel is good under the high ball,” he said. He said that Springbok sevens player Danwel Demas was secure under the high ball and kicked well and this has resulted in his selection ahead of Nokwe in the starting line-up. He also considered another sevens Springbok, the elusive Fabian Juries, a more dangerous impact player and had included him ahead of Nokwe on the bench.

Apart from the Strauss family switch at hooker, the Cheetahs will field the same team that started against the Sharks in the semi-final.

The final kicks off at 5.30 pm on Saturday.

Free State Cheetahs team:

15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Corné Uys, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Frans Viljoen, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Wian du Preez.

Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Louis Strydom, 22 Fabian Juries.

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