Wily Maartens earns rare start in Cheetahs' unlikely date with destiny

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Daniel Maartens. (Getty Images)
Daniel Maartens. (Getty Images)

The Cheetahs' quest to confirm an unlikely spot in the knockouts of the European Challenge Cup will be boosted by the fact that they have selection continuity.

Coach Hawies Fourie on Friday only made two forced changes and a switch for Sunday's do-or-die clash with Pau in Parma, which serves as the Free Staters' home base in the competition.

The diminutive but explosive Daniel Maartens comes in on the openside, where he replaces the significantly more imposing but injured Siba Qoma in a rare starting role.

"We actually prefer playing Daniel off the bench. We just feel he's more effective when the opposition is tiring and their reaction time at the breakdown slows down," said Fourie.

"That gives him more opportunities to either make a steal or deliver a turnover. But our preferences doesn't mean he isn't good enough to make the starting line-up."

Roelof Smit comes in to provide cover on the bench.

In the other change, Andell Loubser and Tapiwa Mafura swop places at fullback.


15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Dan Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Reinhardt Fortuin, 11 Munier Hartzenberg, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Friedle Olivier, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Schalk Ferreira

Substitutes: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Aululutho Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Branden de Kock, 22 Robert Ebersohn, 23 Andell Loubser

The match is effectively a semifinal for progress to the round of 16 - if the Cheetahs win, their participation is extended, if they lose, the dream for this season is over.

"Sunday is an important game for us. We said from the start that we wanted to reach the top 6. We want to do well and use the opportunity to show that the Cheetahs belong in international rugby," said Fourie.  

"The forecast for Sunday is between zero and minus four degrees celsius, so it will be cold, but no rain is expected, making it possible to handle the ball well, keep it through phases, and play an attacking brand of rugby."

Kick-off is at 17:15.

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