The FNB Ikey Tigers have been boosted ahead of Monday’s Varsity Cup Final against FNB Tuks by the return – to their starting team – of Eben Etzebeth, Nic Groom and Whitehead.
Scrumhalf Groom and centre Whitehead missed UCT’s 57-20 semifinal trouncing of the FNB Shimlas two Mondays ago, but will bolster an Ikeys backline shorn of the services of the desperately unlucky Adrian Kritzinger.
Kritzinger has started the majority of UCT’s matches at inside centre this season, only to suffer a Varsity Cup-ending against Shimlas – breaking his collar bone in two places after just 12 minutes – a game in which he was making a return from a previous injury.
But having Whitehead and Marcel Brache back at centre – the duo having started against Tuks last time out in Pretoria – will be a major boost to the Ikeys.
In their only other Varsity Cup game together this year, Whitehead was instrumental in securing the tight 19-17 victory over the same opponents at the same venue when his off-load put centre partner Marcel Brache through for the Ikey’s only try of the game.
UCT will be keen to pick up from where they left off in their 57-20 demolition of Shimlas in in Cape Town, but with the addition of the physical Etzebeth – back from SA U20 duty - it is clear that they are gearing up for a massive onslaught up front from Tuks.
UCT will be desperate to lift this coveted trophy after making the semifinals in all three years of the competition and losing out in two finals; both time to the Maties.
The FNB UCT team: 15 Therlow Pietersen, 14 Pete Haw, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Ricky Rijs, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nicholas Groom, 8 Greg Mallett, 7 Nick Fenton-Wells (captain), 6 Don Armand, 5 Levi Odendaal, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Shane Meier, 2 Matt Page, 1 Wesley Chetty.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Michael Morris, 19 Zandy Macdonald, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Mark Winter, 22 Sabelo Siyakatshana, 23 Pete Olivier.
Head coach: Kevin Foote
Date: Monday, April 11
Venue: Tuks Rugby Stadium, Pretoria
Kick-off: 6.30pm (Live on SuperSport One)
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Rasta Rashivenga, Stefan Geldenhuys
TMO: Johann Meuwesen