Drotské made a number of changes to the team – all surprising selection – as the men from Bloemfontein look to end their losing streak on tour. Jean Cook replaces Labuschagne on flank, with the burly loose forward – affectionately known as Lappies – dropping down to the replacement bench. Most of the selection bolters are in the backline – starting with Sevens Springbok Ryno Benjamin replacing the injured Francois Venter at inside centre.
Venter returned to South Africa with a shoulder injury. Benjamin has helped out at outside centre before and even filled in at scrumhalf while the Cheetahs were down a man in a game last year. However, this will be his first Super Rugby start in the No.12 jersey. Other backline changes will see Hennie Daniller coming in on left wing, replacing Bok tourist Raymond Rhule.
Howard Mnisi comes onto the bench in the place vacated by Benjamin’s promotion. “We are disappointed with how the tour has gone thus far and will be out to finish on a high note against the Blues. That being said, we know it is going to be a difficult game,” Drotské said. Adriaan Strauss will be leading the team onto the field in his 50th game as captain of the Cheetahs.
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Hennie Daniller, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Pieter Labuschagne, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Date: Saturday, March 22
Venue: Eden Park in Auckland
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT; 08.35 SA Time)
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)