PRO14

Cheetahs face many ‘old friends’

Louis Ludik (Getty Images)
Louis Ludik (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The environment will seem very different but many of the accents on the Ulster team extremely recognisable when the Cheetahs make their keenly-awaited PRO14 debut at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.

The game will be televised on SuperSport 1, and kicks off at 20:35 (SA time).

The Irish club revealed their line-up for the season-opening fixture on Thursday ... and it is teeming with South Africans or at least SA-linked personnel.

As many as six falling into that category will start for Ulster: former Lions and Sharks fullback/wing Louis Ludik, ex-Sharks tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst, former Stormers/WP loose forward Robbie Diack, Springbok flankers Marcell Coetzee and Jean Deysel (both ex-Sharks), and the Cape Town-born, SACS-educated hooker Rob Herring.

Rugged No 8 Diack, 31, who has subsequently been capped by Ireland, has been Irish-based for several years; he last turned out at Newlands in the 2008 campaign (aided by his 110kg frame, he operates in the second row for this match).

Most of the other South Africans are rather more recent "northern" signings, but nevertheless serve as notice of the stiff, no-nonsense resistance the Cheetahs can expect in their maiden exposure to the PRO14.

In a further southern-hemisphere flavour, the visitors will also do battle with seasoned Australian international flyhalf Christian Lealiifano (recovered from leukaemia) and All Black fullback Charles Piutau.

Teams:

Ulster

15 Charles Piutau, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Tommy Bowe, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Chris Henry (captain), 6 Jean Deysel, 5 Alan O’Connor, 4 Robbie Diack, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Kyle McCall

Substitutes: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Matthew Rea, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 David Shanahan, 21 Peter Nelson, 22 Darren Cave

Cheetahs

15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Clayton Blommetjies, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan (captain), 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais

Substitutes: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Cecil Afrika, 23 Rayno Benjamin

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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