Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Still rocked by the untimely retirement of Juan Smith, the Cheetahs were buoyed by the news that Bok prop Coenie Oosthuizen came through his first live scrums unscathed this week.
According to the supersport.com website, Oosthuizen, who has missed the last few months with both a neck and back injury, has been steadily recovering, with the Cheetahs nursing his way back into action.
The importance of Oosthuizen’s return to the field is significant, especially after the loss of WP Nel and Marcel van der Merwe since last season and Naka Drotské's admission that his front row depth is something that concerns him at the moment.
While Oosthuizen missed all three warm-up games, he is likely to be included in the starting line-up for next Saturday’s first Super Rugby match against the Sharks.
And the Bok prop’s form will be closely watched after he was tipped by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer for a regular spot in the national team.
The scrums on Monday came after clearance from the specialist that has been handling Oosthuizen’s case and went well, making coach Drotské happy with the progress.
“Coenie looked very good in practices and we are full of confidence he will be able to play against the Sharks next week,” Drotské said.
Another injury good news story is Bok flyhalf Johan Goosen, who also missed all the warm up games with a foot injury, but will be fit for next weekend’s clash with the Sharks.
“We could have played him if we wanted to but we decided not to risk him. He has been taking part in full practice sessions for about a week now,” Drotské added.
“The only discomfort he has is a little irritation when he kicks, but that hasn’t bothered him much and he will be ready for the start of the season.”
While Smith’s injury is a setback the Cheetahs would hardly have wanted so close to the start of the season, they have eight fit players and believe their depth is better now than at any other time in the past.
And if Oosthuizen and Goosen are ready, it will be a massive boost for a side needing confidence.