Currie Cup action resumes on Wednesday, 2 February after a break of two weeks with three clashes in Kimberley, Pretoria and Durban, as the standings start to take shape.
The action starts when Griquas host the Pumas (15:30) in Kimberley, the Cheetahs travel north to face the Bulls (17:45) in Pretoria, and the last match is between the Sharks and Western Province (20:00) in Durban.
The Lions have a bye, and all three matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
In the opening two rounds of action, the Bulls surged to the top of the Currie Cup standings with a big win in Cape Town, while the Pumas and Sharks registered their first log points of the new season.
Griquas will miss their experienced halfback pair of scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer and flyhalf George Whitehead for their home clash against the Pumas. Their replacements, Theo Boshoff and Raegan Oranje, are two of four changes made to the side, mainly due to injury. This will be the first home outing for the Kimberley outfit after playing two away games.
Meanwhile, the Pumas have announced just one tweak from the team that dismantled the Lions in their previous outing two weeks ago. Jade Stighling was handed the No 11 jersey in a rotational switch with Lundi Msenge. Matches between these two sides are usually close-fought affairs, with the teams playing to a 13-13 draw and a four-point win for the Lowvelders in their 2021 fixtures.
The Bulls, who are aiming for a third successive title, will play their first home match of the season following two bonus-point wins on the road when they entertain the Cheetahs.
Bulls Currie Cup head coach Gert Smal has selected a team with a balance of youth and experience which will see the centre pairing of Cornal Hendricks and Stedman Gans in the backline, while Stravino Jacobs makes a return to the starting XV at wing.
Springbok flyer Rosko Specman is back in the Cheetahs’ starting team, with his inclusion increasing the number of Springboks in the Free Staters’ backline to three, alongside skipper Ruan Pienaar (No 9) and Frans Steyn (No 12).
For their coastal derby, inside centre Marius Louw will lead a relatively experienced Sharks side brimming with talent, and bolstered by the inclusion of No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe who makes a welcome return to action after an eighth-month injury lay-off.
Meanwhile, flyhalf Tim Swiel will captain WP in their first away encounter in Durban. Swiel partners with experienced scrumhalf Godlen Masimla, with Mnombo Zwelendaba starting at outside centre, while there is an all-new back three with Sergeal Petersen at fullback and Leolin Zas and Andre Manuel on the wings.
CURRIE CUP ROUND 3 MATCHES – WEDNESDAY, 2 FEBRUARY
Griquas vs Pumas
Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Bulls vs Cheetahs
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Paul Mente
Sharks vs Western Province
Venue: Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Griffin Colby