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Time for the Cheetahs to look the part! Watch out boys, we can bite! Ha ha.

This edition looks at the selection of loose forwards. One area where the Boks, and in particular the Cheetahs have been strong.

This one is lengthy, as a few players have announced themselves during the injury crisis last year.  No doubt there will be hot debate, but what is sure is that the Cheetahs have options aplenty, and may just have the most balanced and exciting backrow in SA, and will be one of the best in the tournament!

Let’s hope in the interests of Cheetahs and Bok rugby, that Juan, and Ratel will stay relatively injury free in 2012.

The Contenders:


Heinrich Wilhelm Brussow:

D.O.B: 21 July 1986

Vital Statistics: (H) 181 cm (W) 102 kg

His claim:  Affectionately known by some as “Ratel” The baby faced assassin has made a profound impact in Bok and International Rugby.  Born and schooled in Bloem, and a product of the esteemed rugby factory Grey College, Heinrich has excelled at every level he has played. He represented the Cheetahs at the 2004 u/18 -Craven Week and has played for the Cheetahs at every conceivable level since. He was a nominee for Sasol Young player of the year in 2008, SA Young Player of the Year in 2009, and also Provincial Player of the Castle 2009 Lions Series. Brussow got his chance for the Boks when Schalk Burger withdrew due to injury in the first test vs The british & Irish Lions in Durban, and made an immediate impact, also scoring a try. He has become an integral part of the Bok team, but injury has curtailed his effect somewhat.

Strengths:  A scavenger of note, Brussow has made contesting rucks an art. He strikes fear in the hearts of opponents. Despite his size, Ratel is equally good at ball carries. extremely powerful, and with a good eye for space, Brussow is a tricky customer to bring down.

Weaknesses: Recently, his career has been bedeviled by injuries. Hopefully he can maintain an injury free run for a while. A fit Brussow, is a joy to behold, and crucial to the Cheetahs and Bok success.

Bok potential: Bok No.  801, Brussow already has 20 caps, and is a recognized international openside flanker. Only turning 26, he will be hard to oust, if he stays fit. He is a shoo in at 6, and would be in almost any International team


Petrus Johannes (Johan) Wessels:

D.O.B: 29 November 1988

Vital statistics: (H) 185 cm (W) 100 kg

His claim: Playing in the shadow of great openside flankers like Brussow, and “Karamba” Kabamba Floors, it took a while for Johan Wessels to gain recognition. He represented the Griffons at u/16, and u/18 Craven Week, in 2004, and 2006 respectively. He has gone on to represent the Cheetahs at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup, and Super Rugby level. Were it not for the presence of Floors, we might well have seen more of this talented, and hard working player.

Strengths: Like Brussow, he is stocky and powerfully built. He is a very accomplished ball scavenger, and would be a possible 1st choice at many other teams. He is also a good tackler, and ball carrier, and the Cheetahs have a very able replacement in Wessels should Brussow get injured.

Weaknesses:  No real weaknesses. Good player

Bok potential: Only 23, anything can happen. There aren’t too many scavengers in the Brussow mold, so he may well become a contender in the future. Other openside flanks that will als hope for higher honours are, Stegmann, Tecklenburg, Minnie, Daniels, and fellow Cheetah Lappies Labuschagne, as well as Nazeem Carr.


Justin Downey:

D.O.B: 11 November 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 191 cm (W) 105 kg

His claim: Johannesburg born, Justin came through the ranks in Natal rugby. He represented Natal at u/16 Duikers (strange fishy name lol), as well as u/21, Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby (2009) level. Justin was also sent the Mexted’s Rugby Academy. He moved to Griquas in 2010, and shows alot of promise.

Strengths: Tall and strong, the Sharks loss, may well become Cheetahs gain. Heard alot, but need to see more of him.

Weaknesses: Can’t say, but feel free to contribute

Bok Potential: Pretty tall for an opensider, he is behind Brussow, and Stegmann in the Bok setup at the moment, and it will take a huge effort to force his way in.


Pieter Hermias (Lappies) Labuschagne:

D.O.B: 11 January 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 189 (W105)

His claim: Playing in the company of fellow Shimla stars like Boom Prinsloo, Marcel van der Merwe, and Willie Britz, Lappies announced himself spectacularly for the Cheetahs in the 2011 Currie Cup. He scored some scintillating tries, and we hardly noticed the absence of stars like Brussow, Johnson, and Smith, as he and fellow loosies Boom Prinsloo, and van der Walt sowed mayhem in the Currie Cup. He has represented the Cheetahs since the 2007 u/18 Craven week, and u/19, u21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup. Surely a Super rugby debut is not far off.

Strengths: Tall, fleet of foot, and a very intelligent player. he runs into space, and is deceptively quick. Also a good lineout proponent.

Weaknesses: Not a weakness, more a case of bad luck to play in an era where Brussow is master class.

Bok potential: Lots of openside flankers in contention, but this lad can play, so maybe!


Juanne Hugo (Juan) Smith:

D.O.B: 30 July 1981

Vital statistics: (H) 196 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim: Almost too many accolades to mention. Juan has represented the Cheetahs from u/21 in 2002, and in the same year represented South Africa at the IRB World Championship. He has played at every representative level for the Cheetahs and has also successfuly captained them. A World Cup winner in 2007,  he was also a part of the 2003 World Cup squad. He is currently the most capped (69) Springbok looseforward, despite, being out injured for most of 2010 and 2011. He has 12 test tries, and is regarded as one of the best 7 flankers in the world. Likened to the legendary bok hard man Andre Venter, is high praise indeed.

Strengths: Not a particularly big man by modern standards, but he is a supreme athlete. A great option at the back of the lineout, a fearless defender, and a good linking player. He is a feared opponent.

Weaknesses: Serious injuries in 2010, and 2011, have prevented him from adding to his test tally. All bok supporters will hope that he can regain his best form

Bok potential: Capped 69 times (10 as 8th man, and 59 as flank) his pedigree is beyond question, more a question of will he regain his form, and remain injury free. If yes, a possible Captain role, and a definate selection for the next 2 -3 years.


Christoffel Philippus (Philip ) van der Walt:

D.O.B: 14 July 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 194 cm (W) 105 kg

His claim:  Product of EP Schools, whom he representes at the u/18 Craven week in 2007, Philip, then signed with the Cheetahs,and has represented the Cheetahs, at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, Cuurie Cup, and Super Rugby level.  In Cheetahs country, he is being groomed as a possible successor for Juan Smith.

Strengths:  Like Juan, he is tall, strong ad very athletic. A fearless defender, and a good lineout jumper.

Weaknesses:  No apparent weaknesses, but we will watch his progress.

Bok potential: As stated, loose forwards are a dime a dozen in SA. He has the potential, and at 22, he can push for future selection, but it is a extremely competitive position, where he will compete with players of the calibre of Juan, Alberts, Deysel, Josh Strauss, Marcel Coetzee, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Arno Botha, and Michael Rhodes. No doubt, we can add more names.


Ashley Francois Johnson:

D.O.B: 16 May 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 184 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim:  A product of Paarl Gymnasium, Ash played u/18 Craven Week rugby for WP in 2004, and then moved to the Cheetahs in 2006, and represented them in the u/21 tournament, and South Africa at the IRB Junior World Champs. Conspicous with his wild afro hair style, Ashley has hit the senior scene with a bang last year. At one stage Naka need players at hooker, and so Ash was moved there, but as injuries mounted he was moved to 8th man. In last years Super Rugby tournament, he was moved to 7, and his bustling runs became a hallmark for the Cheetahs.

Strengths: Powerfully built, and a very strong runner, he is quick, and gets over the gain line with monotonous regularity. His expansive style fits in well with the Cheetahs pattern.

Weaknesses: Can be a bit inconsistent, but when on form, he is a dynamo. He will do well to maintain his form.

Bok potential:  Already capped three times, he can throw his name in the hat, but the competition for Bok spots is fierce. His versatility counts in his favour being equally at home on the side or at the back of the scrum.


Davon Stephanus Raubenheimer:

D.O.B: 16 July 1984

Vital statistics: (H) 195 cm (W) 99 kg

His claim: Davon made his senior rugby debut for the SWD Eagles u/20 side in 2003.  He also played Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup First Division for the Eagles. in 2005 he was selected for the junior Bok team that contested the IRB Junior World Championship. In 2009, he moved to Griquas, representing them in the Currie Cup, and was selected to play for the Royal XV vs the British & Irish Lions in the same year.

Strengths:  Tall and fast.

Weaknesses:  A bit of a beanstalk, if he wants to compete for higher honours he will have to bulk up a little.

 Bok potential: Selected to tour with the Boks on the year end tour of 2009, he is yet uncapped, and is unlikely to get the nod soon in a very competitive enviroment. Where at 8, he will compete with the likes of Spies, Strauss, Vermeulen, Koster, Karemaker, and even Johnson. At 7 the competition is as fierce.


Leon Karemaker:

D.O.B: 18 May 1985

Vital statistics: (H) 191 cm (W) 100 kg

His claim: This talented player made his debut for WP at the Craven Week for u/18 in 2002. In 2003 he was part of the winning Junior Bok team that won the IRB Junior World Championship under the captaincy of Paul Delport. He has represented WP at age group, Vodacom Cup, and Cuurie Cup level before moving to Griquas in 2010. Unfortunately his career has been stalled first by a degenerative eye disease (Stargard’s Syndrome) diagnosed in 2002. Then in 2009 he was diagnosed with diabetes. Despite these setbacks, Karemaker has made a welcome return to senior rugby.

Strengths:  Tall strong and a fast, he is a very useful 8th man.

Weaknesses:  Not a weakness, but his eye disease disadvantages him to a degree.

Bok potential: Talented enough, but due to intense competition, and his career being stalled, unlikely, but what a courageous player. Respect!


Wild Cards:


Danie Burger Schoeman:

D.O.B: 26 September 1988

Vital statistics: (H) 190 cm (W) 105 kg

His claim:  Born in Paarl, Burger has been on the fringes of greater honours since he first appeared for WP at the 2006 Academy Week for u/18’s. He has been a SA U19 trailist in 2006, and was part of the SA u20 squad in 2007. He has represented WP at age group and Vodacom Cup level before moving to Griquas in 2010, wher he has played Currie Cup in 2011.



Marnus Schoeman:

D.O.B: 09 February 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 178 cm  (W) 96 kg

His claim: A product of Waterkloof, Marnus has quite a distinguished schools rugby career. He represented the Bulls at the 2005 u/16 Grant Khomo week, and went on to represent the Bulls  and SA Schools in 2007 and 2007 at u/18 level. he made his senior debut for the Bulls at u/19 in 2007, and in 2008 he was part of the SA squad for the IRB Junior World Championship. He has also played Vodacom Cup for the Bulls in 2011. He moved to Griquas mid season in 2011.

Weaknesses: A tad short, but it’s not the size of the dog that matters, it’s the size of the fight in the dog! He clearly has talent.


My Picks: 

With such a dearth of players to choose from, Naka will be smiling, considering that he went through a hooror season in 2011, where no less than 11 different players, played in the looseforwards, due to a succession of injuries to key players.

If fit Ratel, and Juan are automatic choices with Johnson, hard to ignore, so the combination will be the discerning factor. I would play Brussow at 6, Johnson at  7, and King Juan at 8. However, I am not coach, but competition in the squad will be intense. The final group (bar injuries) should have Brussow, Wessels, Juan, Johnson, vd Walt, and Raubenheimer. Karemaker, may be a surprise inclusion, at the expense of Raubenheimer.

Let the debate begin! Bring it on boys and girls. One thing for sure. Naka has enough players with the credentials to add value to his already competent pack.

Go Cheeeetahs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


22 Responses to Cheetahs Super Rugby contenders (continued) – Loosies


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