The Toyota Free State Cheetahs face the GWK Griquas in Kimberley this coming Saturday in the third round of the 2012 ABSA Currie Cup with the news that Johan Goosen is back.
The men from Bloemfontein are still on a high after defeating bitter rivals the Vodacom Blue Bulls last Friday in Bloemfontein. All though it was a fairly convincing win, it came with a heavy price as both Riaan Smit and flamboyant half back Piet van Zyl sustained bad injuries. Smit dislocated his elbow while Piet van Zyl broke his left clavicle (collarbone) about a minute after coming on for Sarel Pretorius. Both are out of action for between 6 and 8 weeks.
Although Riaan Smit was playing on the wing against the Bulls, the charismatic backline player has played most the season at flyhalf and has been outstanding in the number 10 jersey. Smit will be replaced in the backline by young and exciting Johan Goosen who returns after dislocating his shoulder mid- Super Rugby. Goosen’s return has been widely anticipated by the entire South Africa as Goosen was heavily tipped to be in this years’ Springbok setup. The boy with the golden boot is undoubtably the finest flyhalf South Africa has produced since the days of IRB Hall of Famer Naas Botha. Some believe he is even better.
Speaking to Johan Goosen last Saturday at Grey College he told me that he would be playing between twenty and thirty minutes. Although we would all love to see him play the full eighty, the wisest course of action will be to play him for a short stint as the Free State play the Sharks and Western Province in their next two games.
With injuries to Piet van Zyl and Tewis du Bruyn returning from injury, the Cheetahs have somewhat of a crises at halfback and cannot afford to lose another backline player this early in the season with two crucial matches coming up.
The Griquas have long been regarded as one of the toughest teams in South Africa and know how to bruise their opponents. Apart from their physical toughness the Kimberlites play on a rock hard field with has been the undoing of many a big team in the past. Having narrowly lost to Western Province the last weekend, the Griquas will be on the hunt for a big scalp this weekend and who better than their Free State neighbours.
Very few people know Free State rugby as well as the current Griquas coach and former Free State captain Pote Human. He has managed to beat The Cheetahs once this year when the two sides met in Kathu earlier this season in their respective Currie Cup preparations. Human is a wily old fox and will ensure that his side will make life very difficult for the Cheetahs.
Naka Drotske will do very well if he sticks to the same kind of game that they used to beat the Blue Bulls will last weekend. It was attacking rugby, Free State Rugby! The Blue Bulls beat the Griquas in the opening round of the ABSA Currie Cup and the Cheetahs are well aware of that. That will give them some confidence going into the game, although it was an away game for the Griquas.
Lock Andries Ferreira is starting to settle very nicely in the Cheetahs side and was very instrumental in their win last weekend. The big man scored the opening try in the first minute of the game and won a well deserved Man of the Match award. Much has been said about the Cheetahs lack of decent locks this season; however, Ferreira quickly silenced his critics with his stellar performance against the Blue Bulls.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs side to play the GWK Griquas is as follows:
15. Hennie Danniler, 14. Ryno Benjamin, 13. Robert Eberson (Captain), 12. Barry Geel, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Kabamba Floors, 7. Lappies Labuschagne, 6. Frans Viljoen, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen (Vice Captain), 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. Marcel van der Merwe, 2. Hercu Liebenberg, 1. Trevor Nyakane.
16. Elandré Huggert, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Franscois Uys, 19. Davon Raubenheimer, 20. Tewis du Bruyn, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Nico Scheepers.