UCT have been boosted by the return of fit-again inside centre, and vice-captain, Adrian Kritzinger who will take his place in the No.12 shirt for Monday’s Varsity Cup semifinal against Shimlas.
With Western Province centre Tim Whitehead unavailable – because of Vodacom Cup commitments – Kritzinger’s return could not have come at a better time for Ikey Tigers head coach Kevin Foote.
The 22-year-old missed UCT’s last three fixtures because of injury and will be hungry to slot straight back into the mix – especially in a game of this magnitude.
Kritzinger, a former schoolboy rugby and cricket star, made his Varsity Cup debut this year only – winning the Man of the Match Award in his first outing, but has quickly become a key man for the Ikeys; his calm approach on attack and defence a major boon for those around him.
In other changes to the UCT side, which beat FNB Tuks 19-17 last time out, Nicholas Farrar will start in the No.9 jersey – with Nic Groom on WP duty – and Michael Morris will start in the No.6 shirt.
Morris replaces Don Armand in the back row, with the latter moving into the engine room to replace another WP player, lock Hilton Lobberts.
Losing the likes of Whitehead, Groom and Lobberts for Monday’s semifinal would be a massive blow to any team, but their losses have been offset, somewhat, by the return of South Africa Under-20 stars Eben Etzebeth and Ricky Schroeder – both of whom have been named on the bench for the Tigers.
Meanwhile, in a final change to the UCT 23 – from the side that beat Tuks – WP Under-19 hooker Neil Rautenbach will warm the bench in place of Dayne Jans, who picked up a knee injury which has ruled him out for at least four weeks.
* UCT beat Shimlas 27-21 in their semifinal meeting in Cape Town last year and they also managed to beat the Men from Bloemfontein on their home turf in the first round of this year’s competition.
The Ikeys have never lost to Shimlas in five previous Varsity Cup meetings, the closest being a 30-30 draw in last year’s season-opener.
The FNB UCT team: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Richard Rijs, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Adrian Kritzinger, 11 Mark Winter, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nicholas Farrar, 8 Greg Mallett, 7 Nick Fenton-Wells (captain), 6 Michael Morris, 5 Donovan Armand, 4 Levi Odendaal, 3 Shane Meier, 2 Matt Page, 1 Wesley Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Eben Etzebeth, 19 Zandy Macdonald, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Pete Haw, 22 Sabelo Siyakatshana, 23 Pete Olivier.
Head coach: Kevin Foote
Date: Monday, March 28
Venue: Groote Schuur, Cape Town
Kick-off: 4.45pm (Live on SuperSport One)
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman, Marius van der Westhuizen
TMO: Shaun Veldsman