Injury ravaged Griquas have scored a major coup by signing Western Province and Stormers flyhalf Naas Olivier on a two-year contract.
Rugby 365 reports that Olivier, who also spent four months with French club Auch before returning to WP in June, will make his debut for Griquas in their Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
It is astonishing that Province, who will field untested utility back Joe Pietersen in the No.10 jersey against the Sharks on Friday, has allowed three specialist flyhalves go to other provinces this season.
While they will be celebrating the arrival of the talented and experienced Olivier in Kimberley, more questions will be raised in Cape Town about team selections.
With Springbok Peter Grant out for six weeks, following shoulder surgery, and Willem De Waal ruled out for the rest of the season with a hip joint injury, WP now suddenly face a flyhalf crisis.
Apart from releasing Olivier, who was contracted to WP till the end of the year, to Griquas, the coaching brainstrust in Cape Town have loaned Isma-eel Dollie to Boland and Ricardo Croy to the South Western Districts Eagles.
As a result they were forced to choose between two rookie specialist flyhalves – Under-21 players Coenie van Wyk and Matthew Rosslee – and the more experienced utility, Pietersen, in the No.10 jersey. They opted for Pietersen, who plays fullback or wing and will wear the No.10 jersey for the first time at Currie Cup level. Rosslee is on the bench.
But in Kimberley they will cheer the ‘wisdom’ of the Cape Town coaches to let a talent like Olivier go.
Bedevilled by injury and illness, Griquas coach Dawie Theron moved fast to plug all the gaps this week as he faces neighbours Cheetahs in a Central Unions derby in Bloemfontein.
Theron can probably pick a side from the players sidelined this week – with players such as forwards Albertus Buckle and Hans van Dyk, flyhalf Tobie Botes (all flu), flanks Gareth Krause and Stephan Gerber (hand injuries), scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius (chest injury) all on the injury list.
* Meanwhile the Cheetahs have also dipped into the ‘loan’ market to cover their injury crisis in the front row.
Coach Naka Drotské has called up 24-year-old Leopards hooker Riaan Kruger as back-up to Richardt Strauss.
The Cheetahs have lost the services of frontline hookers like Adriaan Strauss (Springboks), Jaco du Toit (moved to Beziers in France), Hercu Liebenberg (Aurillac in France) and PW van Vuuren (hamstring injury.
The Cheetahs have made just one change to the staring XV that beat Boland last week, with regular captain Hendro Scholtz back from his neck injury. Scholtz will partner Kabamba Floors at flank, with Duane Vermeulen at No.8
Schalk van der Merwe, a star at No.8 this season, drops down to the bench.
Griquas: 15 Bjorn Basson, 14 Gavin Passens, 13 Lafras Uys, 12 Riaan Viljoen, 11 MJ Mentz, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Heinrich Stride, 7 Wayne van Heerden, 6 Gareth Krause (captain), 5 Cilliers Coetzer, 4 Brendon Snyman, 3 Ruaan du Preez, 2 Hans van Dyk, 1 Albertus Buckle.
Replacements: 16 James van der Walt, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Jacques Lombaard, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Dougie Helmuth, 21 Egon Seconds, 22 Conrad Barnard.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Fabian Juries, 10 Chris Rossouw, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kabamba Floors, 6 Hendro Scholtz (captain), 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 David de Villiers, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Richard Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Riaan Kruger, 17 Phillip Lemmer, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Schalk van der Merwe, 20 Neil Powell, 21 JW Jonker, 22 Wilton Pietersen.