Currie Cup

Zeilinga relishes opportunity at Cheetahs

2015-09-11 20:30
Fred Zeilinga (Gallo Images)

Bloemfontein - Flyhalf Fred Zeilinga believes his move from the Sharks to the Cheetahs will allow him to showcase his full potential.

Zeilinga was recognised as an exciting schoolboy talent during his days at Glenwood. He represented the Sharks at Under-13, Under-16 and Under-18 levels, even playing for the Under-19s during his matric year.

As a professional player, he spent seven seasons at the Sharks, where he had limited senior opportunities, especially in a competitive pool of No 10s which included Pat Lambie, Frederic Michalak and Lionel Cronje.

The 23-year-old was given the chance to move to the Cheetahs after this season’s Super Rugby campaign, where he has the chance to prove himself at flyhalf during the Currie Cup.

After four starts and one appearance off the bench, Zeilinga has scored one try and kicked eight conversions and five penalties. His form with ball in hand has also been impressive, which has seen him adapt to the Cheetahs’ attacking mindset quite quickly.

Zeilinga is enjoying life at his new union.

“I really enjoyed my time at the Sharks and I learned a lot from the players over there, especially Pat Lambie. However, the move to the Cheetahs has given me an opportunity play my way into the No 10 jersey and play to my strengths,” Zeilinga told

“I love the attacking rugby the Cheetahs play. I love making the key decisions on attack and with ball in hand. This is the freedom coach Franco Smith gives me. He allows me to play what’s in front of me.”

The Cheetahs currently sit fifth on the log with two wins from five matches. However, Zeilinga believes the team can still compete for a playoff place.

“We should’ve won more games than we have so far. We’re playing good rugby, but there’s so much room for improvement. We can only get better from here… we need to get the necessary results and qualify for the playoffs,” said Zeilinga.

“The forwards are doing a great job up front. They’re setting the platform for the backs to play, and I find myself in a very exciting backline. Guys like Sergeal Petersen, Shaun Venter and Francois Venter are all playing good rugby and offer a lot on attack. Rayno Benjamin is the unsung hero as he’s doing a brilliant job at inside centre among the youngsters.

“We face the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth this weekend, and we really need a good result. We’re expecting a big challenge as all the teams that have gone down to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium have not picked up easy wins.”

From a personal perspective, Zeilinga hopes to do enough to establish himself as the Cheetahs’ starting flyhalf. He’s also enjoying life in Bloemfontein off the field.

“I hope to guide Cheetahs to success in the Currie Cup, and to prove why I should be in the No 10 jersey, especially looking towards Super Rugby next season,” said Zeilinga.

“Bloemfontein is very different to Durban, but I’m enjoying life here. The people are really friendly and welcoming, which has helped a lot. When I’m not on the rugby field, where coach Franco has kept us very busy, you’ll find me on the golf course.”


Eastern Province Kings:

15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Karlo Aspeling, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Cornell Hess, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Dwayne Kelly, 22 Elgar Watts

Free State Cheetahs:

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Cornal Hendricks, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje (captain), 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys

Substitutes: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Ruan de Bruin, 22 Sias Ebersohn

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