FNB UCT squad captain Nick Fenton-Wells will lead his team into battle against the FNB Shimlas, in Monday’s FNB Varsity Cup semifinal at the Green Mile (kick-off 4.15pm).
Fenton-Wells, fit again after a knee niggle, will make his first start since Round Two – when he led his side to an 18-11 win over the FNB NWU-Pukke – and he takes over the captaincy from scrumhalf Stu Commins.
Commins, meanwhile, continues in his regular No.9 jersey and will once again have his partner-in-crime, Matt Rosslee, lining up alongside him in the flyhalf position; with the somewhat unfortunate Doug Mallett moving back down to the bench.
In other changes to the UCT line-up, which secured a home semifinal with a 38-24 win over FNB Tuks last Monday, the rested Therlow Pietersen returns at fullback, with Marcel Brache moving back to outside centre and Mark Esterhuizen once again reverting to the bench.
Esterhuizen, who has scored two tries in two appearances for UCT this year, will warm the bench alongside loose forward Sam Peter, who makes way for Fenton-Wells’s return, and new scrumhalf reserve Nic Groom, who is in for JP Robert, the latter having sustained a severe concussion in the victory over Tuks.
UCT head coach, John Dobson, explained the make-up of his team to varsitycup.co.za: “It is a pretty settled team, as we have been for most of the season.
“It’s fantastic to have our top loose trio back since the very first game (ironically against Shimlas), and, as a result, have had to make some tough calls this week – really tough… at lock, flyhalf, centre, the back-up No.9. But, as a coach, these are nice problems to have.
“One was tempted to take on some of our bigger name players coming back from injury,” added the Ikeys mentor, “but that would have been neither equitable nor pragmatic, the former being more important.”
The FNB UCT team: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Pete Haw, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Sean van Tonder, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Matt Rosslee, 9 Stu Commins (vice-captain), 8 JJ Gagiano, 7 Mike Morris, 6 Nick Fenton-Wells (captain), 5 Donovan Armand, 4 Levi Odendaal, 3 Grant Kemp, 2 Mark Goosen, 1 Ash Wells.
Replacements: 16 Matt Page, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Mike Ledwidge, 19 Sam Peter, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Douglas Mallett, 22 Mark Esterhuizen, 23 Wesley Chetty.
Head coach: John Dobson
Assistant coach: Kevin Foote
Date: Monday, March 22
Venue: Groote Schuur
Kick-off: 4.15pm (Live on SuperSport One)
Referee: Ben Crouse