Marcel Brache, who has been so impressive at outside centre for FNB UCT this season, has been moved to fullback for Monday’s very important final-round Varsity Cup league encounter against FNB Tuks in Cape Town (kick-off 6.30pm).
Brache will take the place of star No.15 Therlow Pietersen, who is still feeling the after-effects of being rear-ended in a dangerous tackle against the Maties this past Monday, with Mark Esterhuizen – a try-scorer against Stellenbosch – filling the vacant No.13 position.
Speedster Zubayr Abrahams – who has been playing for the Tornadoes in the Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships – comes onto the bench, having spent the pre-season with the main UCT Varsity Cup squad.
Pietersen, the Back of the Tournament in the 2009 Varsity Cup, will be fit for the semifinals – but one man that won’t be available is combative hooker Dayne Jans, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Stellenbosch.
Mark Goosen will start at hooker, in place of Jans, with young Matt Page – who was still in the UCT Under-20 ranks last season – serving as Goosen’s back-up.
Elsewhere in the UCT pack, head coach John Dobson has kept the changes to a minimum; with Levi Odendaal winning back the No.4 jersey from fellow hard man Mike Ledwidge.
* The Ikeys and Tuks have met twice before in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, with UCT winning both of those encounters – by 55-24 in 2008 (Cape Town) and 24-22 (Pretoria) last year.
Monday’s match, however, is as important as they come.
Although Tuks are out of the running for a semifinal place – having qualified twice before – UCT need to win, either with a bonus point or without (but depending on the Pukke-Maties result), to secure a home semifinal.
The FNB UCT team: 15 Marcel Brache, 14 Pete Haw, 13 Mark Esterhuizen, 12 Sean van Tonder, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Douglas Mallett, 9 Stu Commins (captain), 8 JJ Gagiano (vice-captain), 7 Mike Morris, 6 Sam Peter, 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 Greg Mallett, 20 JP Robert, 21 Matt Rosslee, 22 Zubayr Abrahams, 23 Wesley Chetty.
Head coach: John Dobson
Assistant coach: Kevin Foote
Date: Monday, March 15
Venue: Groote Schuur
Referee: Tiaan Jonker