An exciting cat fight is on the agenda as the Cheetahs welcome the Lions to Bloemfontein for their Currie Cup encounter on Saturday afternoon.
There’s a big battle ahead as the two teams battle for supremacy and try to give their respective backlines the perfect platform to attack from.
However, it is that backline battle that could play a huge role in which the team emerges with the win as they strive to break through their respective defenses.
Here are five backline players who should play a part in the end result
Cohen Jasper (cheetahs)
The exciting young fullback Cohen Jasper is ready for his first start of the season, having played from the bench in the Cheetahs’ previous game.
Jasper set the Varsity Cup on fire last year, with some great performances for CUT, which saw him named Player of the Tournament. This led to the Cheetahs picking him up, after which he turned up for them at last year’s Currie Cup.
But he’s only played sporadically for them so far and with an abundance of talent, Jasper will be happy to lay claim to a starting spot with a big appearance against the Lions.
Tiaan Swanepoel (Lions)
In a battle of the young fullbacks, Tiaan Swanepoel has something to prove and will pull out all the stops for the Lions against the Cheetahs. Swanepoel recently returned from injury and went straight to the Lions URC team, but after finally getting a starting spot at flyhalf against the Bulls and Stormers, he slid back to the bench with the return of first-choice pivot Jordan Hendrikse.
While Swanepoel was expected to simply return to his favored fullback position, young Quan Horn got the nod instead. So he will want to remind the Lions selectors of his worth with a strong show against the Cheetahs.
Ruan Pienaar (cheetahs)
The Cheetah captain needs no introduction and the experienced scrum half will once again be key in leading his team on Saturday. Pienaar has enjoyed a fantastic return to SA after a nine-year absence from the country, since joining the Cheetahs in 2019.
He has shown that he has matured like a fine wine and produced some notable performances for his side, even leading to the Sharks loaning him to the start of their URC campaign.
Pienaar is a crucial cog in the Cheetahs system and will once again play a major role on Saturday.
Rabz Maxwane (lions)
Lions flyer Rabz Maxwane has not been seen in the URC side since their heavy 34-10 defeat to the Bulls in late January. So he will be eager to put in a huge effort for the Currie Cup team as he fights to get back to the main URC side.
He will also love to impress his former team, to whom he has rendered impressive service for a few years, and remind them of what they are missing. He faces an interesting fight against Malcolm Jaer and he will be happy to get one over him and help his side achieve a win.
Frans Steyn (cheetahs)
Springbok utility Frans Steyn is a big game player and series winner. His experience, skill and monster boat are huge weapons and he is a player any team would love to have in their ranks.
Since returning to SA and joining the Cheetahs in 2020, he has uplifted the union with his presence and made sure they don’t fall into obscurity after booting out of the Pro 14 (now URC).
As always, he will play a huge part in the team’s success and will try to punish the Lions at every opportunity on Saturday.