Coach Naka Drotske has admitted that it was a massive blow to lose tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen to a neck injury which has ruled him out for about eight weeks seen him return home.
It has forced Drotske to give the 22-year-old Maks van Dyk his first start, while Trevor Nyakane and Rossouw de Klerk, who was only flown in yesterday, were named on the bench.
Drotske said the reason for starting Van Dyk is because he is a recognised No 3, while Nyakane can cover both prop positions.
But that’s not the only area where Drotske had to plug the gaps, with playmaker Willie le Roux being moved to left wing to replace the injured Raymond Rhule, out with a ankle injury, with Hennie Daniller named at fullback.
On the other wing, Rayno Benjamin replaces Cornal Hendricks who drops to the bench, but fortunately flyhalf Johan Goosen (knee) and flank Lappies Labuschagne (heel) have recovered from injury.
The Reds are coming off a heavy 32-5 defeat to the Waratahs last week, but they were impressive in their first game against the Brumbies in a 27-17 win in Canberra.
The Cheetahs conceded no tries in their opening matches against the Lions and the Bulls, but last week they saw the Rebels run five tries past them en-route to a 35-14 hammering.
The Cheetahs have never beaten the Reds in Brisbane, but have scored wins in Bloemfontein of 10-6 (2006), 29-14 (2008) and 27-13 (last year).
The Reds’ wins have come in 2007 (23-13), 2009 (22-3) and 2011 (41-8) all in Brisbane, while they also beat the Cheetahs 21-10 in Bloemfontein in 2010.
Kick-off is at 10.40am.