Marcel stays, Coenie tours
Bloemfontein - Strong competition at prop has kept Marcel van der Merwe from booking his ticket for his first overseas Super Rugby trip.
Van der Merwe is arguably the most unlucky Cheetahs player that will not be boarding the plane to Australia on Sunday.
Flank Lappies Labuschagné’s shoulder injury and Waltie Vermeulen’s studies also cost them their seats among the 26 players to board.
Justin Downey and George Earle will replace them respectively.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské confirmed on Wednesday Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen will be returning against the Brumbies next week after missing the opening two weeks of competition while still recovering from a neck operation he underwent at the end of last year.
It is his return that cost Van der Merwe, considered one of South Africa’s most promising rising talents, his spot in the touring group.
Van der Merwe started the pre-season friendly games against the Southern Kings and the Stormers but was left out of the squad that faced the Lions last Saturday.
Trevor Nyakane was preferred at loosehead prop.
Lourens Adriaanse has been included in the touring group and the specialist tighthead prop enjoys preference as WP Nel’s deputy.
Saturday’s clash against the Bulls will be Vermeulen’s last for a few weeks as the University of the Free State medical student returns to focus on his studies for the time being.
Drotské said it was a difficult decision leaving Labuschagné out after he injured his shoulder playing for the Shimlas against Maties in the Varsity Cup.
“This sort of injury can keep him out for two to four weeks and we can’t take him on tour if he’ll miss two games over there.”
“We decided to leave him behind, but he’ll be on the first flight over if a forward gets hurt,” Drotské said.
The Cheetahs players who will miss the tour are Barry Geel, Van der Merwe, Labuschagné, Francois Uys and the injured Dusty Noble.
Cheetahs touring party:
Coenie Oosthuizen, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Hercu Liebenberg, WP Nel, Lourens Adriaanse, Andries Ferreira, George Earle, Izak van der Westhuizen, Heinrich Brüssow, Justin Downey, Philip van der Walt, Ashley Johnson, Davon Raubenheimer
Pieter van Zyl, Tewis de Bruyn, Sias Ebersohn, Johan Goosen, Philip Snyman, Andries Strauss, Robert Ebersohn, Rayno Benjamin, Cameron Jacobs, Rocco Jansen, Willie le Roux, Hennie Daniller