Vodacom Super 14
Juan gives Cheetahs more bite
Juan Smith (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein – Just days after attending his father’s funeral, Springbok flank Juan Smith will captain the Cheetahs as they aim to win their first Super 14 game overseas.
Smith’s inclusion is one of six changes and a positional switch to the Cheetahs’ line-up for Friday’s match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
He joined up with his team-mates in New Zealand on Monday night. His father’s funeral was in Bloemfontein last Tuesday.
Smith would initially have missed the rest of the tour, but an ankle injury to lock Waltie Vermeulen prompted team management to call him up for the last tour game.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie said that Smith’s willingness to play spoke volumes.
“It says a lot about him under such difficult circumstances. It just shows how much Juan cares about Free State rugby and the Cheetahs,” he said.
Fourie believes that Smith’s presence will make an impact.
“He will make a big difference on defence because he tackles opponents back. He will also be worth a lot on attack with his ability to get us over the advantage line and that will get us on the front foot.”
Apart from Smith’s inclusion, Corné Uys, Meyer Bosman (both centres), Naas Olivier (fly-half), Ryno Barnes (hooker) and Wian du Preez (prop) will also get opportunities, while Barend Pieterse (lock) will no longer be used on the flank.
Uys would have played against the Crusaders last week, but had to withdraw due to a rib injury.
Bosman is also back after Barry Geel got game time last week.
Olivier is the general again and replaces Riaan Viljoen. Viljoen could not train on Tuesday due to a hip injury, but Fourie believes he’ll be ready to make an impact as a substitute.
Hooker Adriaan Strauss is struggling with sore ankle ligaments, which means that Barnes will pack down in the scrum.
“Adriaan did not train on Tuesday. We’re hoping it won’t be necessary for him to play,” said Fourie.
Du Preez will anchor the scrum again in Coenie Oosthuizen’s place. Fourie said that Du Preez had played well as substitute against the Crusaders and also offers a ball-carrying threat on attack.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs will be without fly-half Mike Delany and wing Lelia Masaga due to respective shoulder and knee injuries.
Stuff.co.nz reports that Delany will undergo surgery and be out for six months, while Masaga will be ruled out for six weeks.
Centre Richard Kahui (shoulder) and wing Sitiveni Sivivatu (knee) still have to prove their fitness.The Cheetahs team:
15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Danwell Demas, 13. Corne Uys, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Jongi Nokwe, 10. Naas Olivier, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Davon Raubenheimer, 7. Juan Smith (captain), 6. Barend Pieterse, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen, 4. Hendro Scholtz, 3. WP Nel, 2. Ryno Barnes, 1. Wian du Preez
Substitutes: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen, 18. Nico Breedt, 19. Philip van der Walt, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Riaan Viljoen, 22. Robert Ebersohn