Just a quick round-up on some news affecting the five SA franchises in the build-up to the Super 14.
There’s no real news from Durban, other than the worrying re-occurrence of Pat Cilliers’ knee injury. With John Smit in the mix as a possible tighthead, I guess Pat’s Super 14 exposure this year may well have been limited anyway. Still, we await news on how serious it is this time around. Albert van den Berg looks likely to miss the first few rounds, having had shoulder surgery during the off season, while neither Bismarck du Plessis nor Jacques Botes is training with the team yet. Coach Plumtree expects both to be back soon.
The Stormers are looking pretty good, with only Brian Mujati, Conrad Jantjes and Willem de Waal as injury concerns at this stage. Rassie Erasmus is a long way from settling his squad and it looks as though a fair few of the youngsters who put their hands up in the Currie Cup will get a look in, amongst them promising loose forward Nick Koster.
The Lions are also looking all right from an injury perspective, the big news there being the return to fitness of Andre Pretorius – but for how long? American Todd Clever will bolster the loose forward ranks, while Ernst Joubert remains unavailable for the first month or so. Baywatch Grobbelaar will captain the side. At this stage, a likely Lions first-choice backline would comprise Janno Vermaak, Pretorius, Henno Mentz, Doppies la Grange, Jacques Fourie, Ashwin Willemse and Louis Ludick, which appears a pretty potent combination. Dare Lions fans cling to any hope for 2009? Only time will tell.
The Bulls have suffered a few training-related injuries, with Heini Adams and Derick Kuün both going down recently. There is something of a hooker crisis, with both Chilliboy Rallepele and Bandise Maku also suffering from niggles. Neither JP Nel nor Jaco van der Westhuizen have returned from Japan yet, either, although there is some good news; AWOL defence coach John McFarland has apparently returned to his post, although his dispute with his employers remains unresolved.
The Cheetahs hope to have captain Juan Smith available for their warm up matches against the Sharks and Bulls – that’s according to former Bulls coach Eugene van Wyk, who is the new Cheetahs manager. Reports from Bloemfontein suggest that Meyer Bosman will be the first-choice flyhalf for the team in 2009, with last year’s playmaker Jacques-Louis Potgieter shifting to inside centre. Expect a radically different back division from last year, which may take some time to gel. JW Jonker seems to have the inside lane on the other centre berth at this stage, although Boland captain Piet van Zyl will also fancy his chances of a run.Tweet