The Cheetahs opted for the experience of Tewis de Bruyn in the crucial No.9 position ahead of their Super Rugby season opener against the Lions on Saturday.
De Bruyn, who returned from a stint with French club Toulon a couple of weeks ago, will start ahead of promising young Pieter van Zyl.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské felt that De Bruyn's experience, solid defence and tactical prowess will be better suited to the Cheetahs cause at the start of the season in which South African teams may well all be fighting for survival.
The other noteworthy selection is Shimlas loose forward Pieter Labuschagné - who will combine with Davon Raubenheimer (No.8) and Heinrich Brüssow (No.6).
However, there is an injury cloud over Labuschagné. The flank played for Shimlas in their 7-20 Varsity Cup defeat to Maties on Monday and injured his shoulder. He was assessed by the Cheetahs' medical staff late on Tuesday and will face another fitness test later in the week when a final call on his participation will be made.
Philip van der Walt is on standby to take over from Labuschagne.
Up to eight players in the Cheetahs' matchday squad could make their Super Rugby debuts against the Lions. In the starting XV Labuschagné, left wing, Rocco Jansen, flyhalf Johan Goosen, lock Andries Ferreira and prop Trevor Nyakane are all newcomers. On the bench Van Zyl, hooker, Hercu Liebenberg and fullback Willie le Roux are in like for a first Super Rugby appearance.
Right wing Dusty Noble, who previously played for the Lions, will make his first Super Rugby appearance for the Cheetahs. Noble was preferred ahead of Sevens Springbok Rayno Benjamin in the No.14 jersey. There's not even a spot for Benjamin on the bench.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Lourens Adriaanse, 17 Hercu Liebenberg, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Willie le Roux.
Date: Saturday, February 25
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
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