Springbok flank Juan Smith will make his long awaited return to rugby when the Cheetahs face the Stormers in a Super Rugby warm-up game in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Smith hasn’t played any rugby since rupturing his Achilles against the Bulls on February 24, 2011, and according to theVolksblad website, the 29-year-old will get a chance to prove his fitness on Saturday and against the Bulls in their second warm-up game the following week.
Smith, who started training with the Cheetahs last week, is without a contract due to his long absence and will play on match fees alone.
“Juan is ready to play. He will probably get 15 minutes against the Stormers and 30 minutes against the Bulls,” said backline coach Hawies Fourie.
“This will allow us to possibly consider him for our first Super game – against the Sharks.”
The Cheetahs, who lost 33-17 to the Lions in Johannesburg over the weekend, will again not field their best line-up against the Cape side. That will only happen against the Bulls the week thereafter.
Fourie said more than 22 players will be utilised against the Stormers, with flank Lappies Labuschagné (ankle), No 8 Philip van der Walt (knee), fullback Willie le Roux (groin) and centre Johann Sadie (hamstring) expected to make their comebacks.
Their captain and Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss – who was rested against the Lions – could also play for a few minutes on Saturday.
The Cheetahs’ first Super Rugby game against the Sharks is at the Free State Stadium on Saturday, February 23.