The Cheetahs have named their initial Super 14 training squad and although a whole raft of new players have come into the fold, it doesn’t look like the Free Staters will be competing for anything other than the wooden spoon next year.
Juan Smith has not been included, as he has just returned from the Bok end of year tour and is presumably still injured anyway. Rob Ebersohn is also not currently available, due to national Sevens commitments, but both names will surely be added to the squad once available. There’s quite an early-season injury list as well, with Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Chris Rossouw, JW Jonker and Jacques-Louis Potgieter all currently nursing bumps and bruises. The latter has, quite interestingly, been named at inside centre, rather than his usual position of flyhalf.
Regular props Wian du Preez and Kobus Calldo will have backup in the form of WP Nel, Jean Botha and Ruaan du Preez, all three of whom have recently moved to Kimberley from the Cape. The Strauss cousins are predictably named at hooker, with former Valke rake Rayno Barnes edging Ashley Jonhson as the third option. The retirement of Barend Pieterse leaves the second-row cupboard looking very bare indeed, with Nico Breedt earmarked as a starting lock option, together with David de Villiers. Griquas stalwart Wayne van Heerden and the journeyman Spuddy Myburgh standing in for the injured van der Merwe.
The loss of Duane Vermeulen to the Stormers leaves the Cheetahs again a little short of options at number 8, with Frans Viljoen and Bioplus van der Merwe vying for the number 8 jersey. Kabamba Floors has been named among the flanks, indicating that the experiment of turning him into a wing may well be over, at least for now. Hein Brüssow and Hendro Scholtz provide good options on the openside, while Francois Uys and Devon Raubenheimer will be the blindside men, at least until Smith’s return.
Tewis de Bruyn and Sarel Pretorius are back at scrummie, with new Griquas Tertius Carse and Gerrie Odendaal (another East Rander) providing plenty of competition. Meyer Bosman and Conrad Barnard are the flyhalves, although Chris Rossouw will in all likelihood take over in this position once fit. Another former Valke player, Hanno Coetzee, looks to have the inside track on the number 12 jersey, with Bevin Fortuin as his backup. Fortuin, as we know, is a more regular fullback. Three new players will vie for the outside centre jersey; Corne Uys from the Stormers, Piet van Zyl from Boland and big Dewald Pretorius from the Bulls (via the Valke).
Jongi Nokwe is the best winger available, altough Eddie Fredericks is nowhere to be found this year. New recruits Danwel Demas (via the Bulls and Boland) and Trompie Nontshinga (I can’t even remember how many teams he’s signed for) will add some pace, while Sevens experts Bjorn Basson and Fabian Juries are also available. Alwyn Hollenbach and Hennie Daniller will be the fullbacks.
All-in-all, not the sort of squad to cause sleepless nights for anyone – other than the Cheetahs coaching staff!
Cheetahs preliminary squad:
1′s: W du Preez,J Botha
2′s: A Strauss,R Strauss,R Barnes
3′s: K Calldo,WP Nel,B du Preez
4′s: N Breedt,W van Heerden
5′s: D de Villiers,P Myburgh
6′s: H Brüssow,H Scholtz
7′s: F Uys,D Raubenheimer,K Floors
8′s: F Viljoen,S van der Merwe
9′s: T de Bruyn,S Pretorius,T Carse,G Odendaal
10′s: M Bosman,C Barnard
11′s: J Nokwe,T Nontshinga
12′s: H Coetzee,B Fortuin
13′s: C Uys,P van Zyl,D Pretorius
14′s: D Demas,B Basson,F Juries
15′s: H Daniller,A Hollenbach
J Smith, R Ebersohn, C Rossouw, J-L Potgieter, JW Jonker, C OosthuizenTweet