Griquas flyhalf Naas Olivier is set for a dramatic return to the Super 14 stage after an absence of two years, when the Cheetahs face the defending champion Crusaders in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that a hand injury that will rule first-choice pivot Jaques–Louis Potgieter out for four weeks, looks set to open the door for Olivier’s return.
Cheetahs team manager Eugene van Wyk confirmed to rugby365.com that Potgieter will be sidelined for about a month.
“He had surgery today [Monday] to repair the ligaments where his thumb is attached to the wrist,” Van Wyk said, adding that there was “no fracture”, but Potgieter will be out for at least four weeks.
Olivier has been training with the Cheetahs squad in the last few weeks and was then released every week to continue playing in the Vodacom Cup with Griquas.
“The team [to face the Crusaders] hasn’t been finalised yet,” Van Wyk told rugby365.com, adding that Meyer Bosman and Tewis de Bruyn are the other options at flyhalf.
Despite having been part of the Cheetahs training squad for the last few weeks, Olivier has been reduced to playing Vodacom Cup rugby – a secondary domestic competition in South Africa.
He last played Super Rugby when still with the Stormers in 2007 and after failed stint in French club rugby he returned to South Africa last year – only to find out he was no longer wanted in Cape Town.
After first being ‘on loan’ to Griquas, he was then released to sign with the Kimberley-based for the Currie Cup competition.
He has been in sublime form for Griquas this year, who finished second in the northern pool of the Vodacom Cup.
Van Wyk said the team is looking forward to having another crack at one of the big guns, after being undone by some very poor decisions by the match officials in their 10-28 loss to the Chiefs this past weekend.
“We are having one of those years where things just don’t go our way,” he said, pointing to a crucial touch judge call at a crucial stage in the game – with the Cheetahs trailing just 10-13.
The inexperienced Australian touch judge Damien Mitchelmore allowed a Chiefs player, with half his body in touch already, to place the ball in the field of play and from there Serge Lilo scored a try that took the score to 20-10.
The Cheetahs never recovered and concveded another try in the final 10 minutes.
“Those kind of mistakes can break a team’s resolve. We had been tackling our hearts out for 70 percent of the time and were doing so well to stay in the game, then you get a call like that and all our hard work were undone,” Van Wyk said.
“But the guys are determine to pull off another win and we are back in Bloemfontein, so it will be a big effort from the team against the Crusaders this week.”Tweet