His goal-kicking ability won utility back Tewis de Bruyn the right to start at flyhalf when the Cheetahs tackle the Mighty Elephants of Eastern Province in a pre-season match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie confirmed that first-choice flyhalf Naas Olivier remains on the ‘doubtful’ list for the opening match of the Super 14 season, against the Bulls on February 12, and second-choice No.10 Louis Strydom is also some time away from full contact.
“Young Sias [Ebersohn] is the only fit specialist flyhalf in our squad at present,” Fourie told rugby365.com, adding that they need to look at their reserves before the season proper gets underway.
“Naas [Olivier] has about an 80 percent chance of playing [in the tournament opener] against the Bulls, but we don’t want to get caught short if something should happen between now and February 12 and he is ruled out.
“Against the Bulls you need a reliable goal-kicker and Tewis’s boot will be important in that regard.”
The other frontline player missing Saturday’s pre-season fixture is Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss, who is making good progress on the road to full recovery from a shoulder injury.
“He could have played [against the Elephants], but we don’t want to take unnecessary risks,” Fourie said, adding: “We also need to decide [between Ryno Barnes and Skipper Badenhorst] who is our second best. This is the ideal game for that trial and they will get enough game time to show their worth.”
Fourie said the other positions where there is doubt about who will start against the Bulls are at fullback, where Griquas’ new Bok Riaan Viljoen and Cheetahs regular Hennie Daniller will go head to head in PE, as well as left wing – where Sevens Bok Danwel Demas and 15-man Bok Jongi Nokwe the contenders.
The other Sevens start, Lionel Mapoe, has virtually made the No.14 jersey his own.
Two internationals still on the sideline is Bok midfielder Meyer Bosman (who should be able to play against the Bulls) and Sevens star Robert Ebersohn, who won’t be taking any contact till the end of February.
The team to tackle the Elephants will be captained by Juan Smith and includes five Boks in the starting XV.
Cheetahs: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Corné Uys, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Juan Smith (captain), 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Albertus Buckle, 17 Skipper Badenhorst, 18 Walti Vermeulen, 19 Frans Viljoen, 20 Sias Ebersohn, 21 Danwel Demas, 22 Hennie Daniller.
Date: Saturday, January 23
Venue: Nelson Mandela Metropole Stadium
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Phillip Bosch, Christie du Preez