Durban – The Cheetahs emerge from hibernation on Saturday afternoon in the most picturesque of places — the Pyrenees mountains city of Pau where they play the French Top 14 team formally known as Section Paloise.
It will be the Free State side’s debut in the EPCR Challenge Cup and the game is televised live on SuperSport at 3pm on channel 206.
Springbok veteran Frans Steyn dusts himself off to make a return from injury at fullback in a side that has two former Boks in scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and flank Oupa Mahoje
The Bloemfontein side last featured in the PRO14 competition in the 2020/21 season, where they finished in fourth place on the Conference A log with six wins in 13 matches.
Section Paloise – or Pau – as they are commonly known, have included a former Cheetahs prop in Maks van Dyk on their replacements bench for the clash at the Stade du Hameau.
“Pau play with high intensity, and they are a skilful team. They are not afraid to attack and to put you under pressure,” said Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie from Pau.
“This game will definitely be a step up for us. We also like to play with high intensity, so it will suit us. We need to execute our plans well.
“We know that there is a lot of pressure and expectations from the outside, and we have a responsibility to do well. We can now measure ourselves against these guys. It is a privilege to have the opportunity, and we’ll make the best of it.
“We’re trying to use the player’s skills as well as we can in the conditions they are going to play in.”
Cheetahs – 15 Frans Steyn, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Reinhardt Fortuin, 11 Tapiwa Mafura, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Friedle Olivier, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Jeandrè Rudolph, 5 Victor Sekekete (c), 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Sibabalo Qoma, 21 Daniel Maartens, 22 Rewan Kruger, 23 Robert Ebersohn.