The Stormers, who had a bye in the first round, kick off their Super Rugby Unlocked campaign on Saturday evening when they host the Lions in Cape Town.
The Cape Town clash is one of two Saturday matches, with Griquas hosting the Pumas in Kimberley in the earlier kick off.
Friday evening sees the exciting Cheetahs outfit up against the powerful Bulls in Bloemfontein, where the action starts 19h00.
Unchanged Cheetahs ready for physical Bulls challenge
The same 15 players that did the damage for the Cheetahs last weekend will run out again on Friday when the Free Staters host the Bulls in Bloemfontein, in what will be the 100th time Clayton Blommetjies runs out in the famous white jersey.
The only change Hawies Fourie (head coach) made to his team was on the bench, where Jacques du Toit came in for Louis van der Westhuizen as the new replacement hooker.
“The Bulls will bring different challenges (to the Pumas) and we’re expecting a very physical match,” said Toyota Cheetahs assistant coach Corniel van Zyl.
Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, has made five changes to his starting team for their visit to Bloemfontein, with Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen back to lead the men in blue.
White also decided to hand the exciting and hard-hitting inside centre, Clinton Swart, his Bulls debut against the Free Staters, whom he represented a few seasons ago.
“We struggled to get going against the Griquas and we cannot afford the same against a strong Cheetahs team,” said White.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Malcolm Jaer, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Charles Marais. Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Chris Massyn, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 William Small-Smith.
Bulls: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 David Kriel, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans.
Griquas unchanged for Pumas visit
Tafel Lager Griquas will field an unchanged starting fifteen for their home match against the Pumas on Saturday.
There are however two changes on the bench for the Peacock Blues’ first home fixture of the new local competition, both of them amongst the forwards with the inclusion of Andrew Beerwinkel, a former Bulls, Pumas and Junior Springbok prop, and utility forward Ewan Coetzee.
Meanwhile, Phakisa Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has made a bunch of changes to his side, as they will have to make do without two key players who are injured, Ryan Nell and Le Roux Roets.
The only players who will start again this week are Devon Williams (fullback), Wayne van der Bank (centre), Neil Maritz (left wing), Eddie Fouche (flyhalf), Ginter Smuts (scrumhalf), Willie Engelbrecht (flank), Ruan Kramer and Morgan Naude (both props).
Griquas: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 André Swarts, 11 James Verity-Amm, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Carl Els, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli. Replacements (from): Alandre van Rooyen, Andrew Beerwinkel, Madot Mabokela, Adre Smith, Zandre Jordaan, Gideon van der Merwe, Ashon Davids, Berton Klaasen, Mzwanele Zito, Ewan Coetzee, Bjorn Basson.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Etienne Taljaard, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Neil Maritz, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude. Replacements: 16 HP van Schoor, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Heath Backhouse, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Neil Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Dewald Maritz.
Seven Springboks to start for Stormers against Lions
John Dobson (head coach) has included seven Springboks in the Stormers starting line-up for their encounter with the Lions at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
There are just two changes to the starting line-up that did duty in the 34-21 victory against the Lions on Super Fan Saturday at Loftus Versfeld at the start of the month, with fit-again wing Sergeal Petersen replacing the injured Seabelo Senatla, while Bongi Mbonambi starts at hooker with Scarra Ntubeni among the replacements.
“This is our first competitive match since March, so to say that we are looking forward to it would be an understatement,” said Dobson.
Morne van den Berg has been named to replace the injured Dillon Smit at scrumhalf in the only change to the Lions starting line-up.
Van den Berg gets a deserved start following his solid performance last week as first-half replacement for Smit, who dislocated his shoulder and will most likely miss the remainder of the local season as a result of injury rehabilitation.
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Michal Haznar, 23 Tim Swiel.
Lions: 15 EW Viljoen; 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Rabz Maxwane; 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg; 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole. Replacements (from): Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith, Wiehahn Herbst, Wilhelm van der Sluys, MJ Pelser, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ross Cronjé, Gianni Lombard, Wandisile Simelane, Ruan Dreyer.