Hello all, I have been coerced into being a contributing author on Rugby-Talk, providing a Cheetah perspective on all things rugby! This is new territory for me, but in the interests of Cheetahs supporters, and the growth of Rugby-Talk, I will give it a good old whirl.
In today’s Article, I will look at the possible contenders for props in the Cheetahs 2012 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention. I encourage all to differ from me, as that is what we all blog for. However, let’s avoid the personal diatribes.
Name: Victor Coenraad (Coenie) Oosthuizen also nicknamed “Shrek”
D.O.B. : 22 March 1989
Vital Statistics: (H) 189 cm (W) 121 kg
His claim: Coenie has been in the Cheetahs system since 2005, representing the Free State Schools at the Grant Khomo u16 tournament. Despite his youth, he is already an established senior player. He is quick for such a big man, and has scored plenty of tries for the Cheetahs.
Strengths: Coenie’s workrate out of the scrums is exceptional, making tackles, attending rucks, and running at opposition defences. He has delighted fans with his “goose-step” vs the Brumbies in 2011. He is a try scorer of note (top try scorer for Cheetahs in the 2010 CC). He can play loosehead and tighthead which is invaluable. His claimed time of 12 seconds for the 100m and 5.17 sec over 40m is more that of a back than a front row behemoth.
Weaknesses: His detractors say that his technique is lacking, but at 23, under the mentorship of the legendary Os du Randt, that can be rectified. Another issue that has been bandied about is the penalty count. However, many penalties have been at rucks, when he is quick to contest, and not always at scrum time.
Bok Potential: He is already a bok (No. 824), but is uncapped as yet. He is definitely a bok contender, and his ability to play both sides is a bonus. He will have to oust Beast Mtwarira, to cement a starting berth for the Boks, but could well play a bench role iniatially. His ability to play both sides is an advantage. Other good prospects are Greyling (Bulls), team mate Marcel van der Merwe and Steven Kitshoff (Stormers).
Name: Marcel van der Merwe
D.O.B. : 24 October 1990
Vital Statistics: (H) 189 cm (W) 121 kg
His claim: Marcel has been in the Cheetahs system since 2009, representing the Cheetahs at u19 age group. A powerfully built young man, he threw his name into the hat, by virtue of his relatively good season at loosehead for the Cheetahs in the 2011 CC. He got his chance when a move to tighthead, for incumbent Coenie was necessitated, by an injury to WP Nel. Apart from being schooled by Bok incumbent Jannie du Plessis in the CC semi-final in Durban, he delivered some solid performances.
Strengths: Like Coenie, Marcel is a busy player out of the scrums, often seen making tackles, and running at the opposition. He is very young, and started out as a tighthead, but shifted to tighthead by Os as part of his development.
Weaknesses: Apart from being schooled by jannie, I will reserve judgement. He is definitely a better back up than Caldo imo.
Bok Potential: A junior bok in 2010, he can definitely throw his name in the hat in a year or two.
Name: Johannes Lambrechts (Janro) van Niekerk
D.O.B. : 05 November 1982
Vital Statistics: (H) 182 cm (W) 115 kg
His claim: Janro started out his senior rugby at the u21 age level for the Bulls in 2002. More recently, he was a stalwart in the unexpectedly all conquering Boland Cavaliers team in the 2011 Vodacom Cup, where they comprehensively smashed the Super rugby hopefuls the EP Kings. I don’t know much about the man, but it could be an astute signing by Naka to shore up his prop back up.
Strengths: Need help from bloggers on this.
Weaknesses: At a mature 29, which is when most props hit their straps, he will be hard pressed to get a starting spot against the younger contenders.
Bok Potential: at 29 doubtful.
Name: Willem Petrus (WP) Nel
D.O.B. : 30 April 1986
Vital Statistics: (H) 182 cm (W) 120 kg
His claim: WP started out his senior rugby at the u18 age level for the Boland in 2004, and later with the WP at u21 in 2007. He then moved to the Cheetahs in 2009, and after some sterling performances, he was selected to represent the Barbarians vs the All Blacks at Twickemham. WP Nel has become the anchor, in what has become a powerful Cheetahs scrum in recent years.
Strengths: He is technically a sound scrummager, and he is pretty mobile too.
Weaknesses: Not many that I am aware of.
Bok Potential: Not really seen as a contender thus far, and with quite a few tightheads coming through the ranks, I doubt we will see him in the national frame, but he remains an integral part of the Cheetahs setup.
Name: Lourens Cornelius Adriaanse
D.O.B. : 05 February 1988
Vital Statistics: (H) 180 cm (W) 115 kg
His claim: Lourens started out his rugby at the u16 age level for the WP in 2004, and starred for Maties in 2010 Varsity Cup, and was then scooped up by Griquas. He quickly became the anchor in the Griquas CC campaign.
Strengths: He is strong scrummager, and has been consistent in the CC, and has fared well in his season of Super rugby with the Cheetahs.
Weaknesses: Not many that I am aware of.
Bok Potential: Not really seen as a contender thus far, but aged 24, he has time on his side. Other tightheads coming through the ranks, that could make the step up are Frans Malherbe (Stormers), his brother Jacobie (Lions), Werner Kruger (Bulls) and Pat Cilliers (Lions). So far Jannie has the Bok position firmly nailed down setup.
Name: Trevor Ntando Nyakane
D.O.B. : 04 May 1989
Vital Statistics: (H) 178 cm (W) 110 kg
His claim: Hailing from bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, Trevor represented the Limpopo Blue Bulls at u16 age level in 2005. He has been in the Cheetahs system since 2008, representing the Cheetahs u19 team. He got a few starts in the 2011 CC, and has made a positive
Strengths: He is new on the scene, but he has been useful thus far. As has become the norm in the Cheetahs setup, and modern props he is quite mobile. He is also short which will allow him to get under taller looseheads.
Weaknesses: To early to say.
Bok Potential: To early to rank as a bok hopeful.
Name: Eugene Francois Butterworth
D.O.B. : 19 September 1984
Vital Statistics: (H) 184 cm (W) 128 kg
His claim: He is pretty new to me, but formed a useful partnership with van Niekerk at Boland in 2011. He is a big fellow at 128 kg though.
Strengths: Need input from bloggers.
Weaknesses: Need input from.
Bok Potential: I have no idea, seems unlikely.
Once Coenie has made a successful recovery from his neck injury, he should nail down the loosehead position. In his absence, it will be the young Marcel, to try and keep Janro van Niekerk at bay. WP Nel is a shoo in at tighthead, with able back up from Adriaanse. Naka, and the Cheetahs are famous for boxing above their weight with relatively unheralded players, and it seems that they are well covered at prop. His signing of the two Boland props as cover could prove to have been astute. With Coenie and van der Merwe able to play both sides of the scrum, the combinations and options available to Naka are legio. He has players with extensive Super Rugby experience in Coenie, WP Nel, Lourens Adriaanse, with young players looking to kick on, in Van der Merwe and Nyakane and as additional cover he has signed the prop pair from Boland. Though relatively untested at Super Rugby level, they were stalwarts in a powerful Boland scrum. There won’t be too many franchises in SA that will outmuscle the Cheetahs front row.
Name: Kevin Bruce Stevens
D.O.B. : 30 January 1987
Vital Statistics: (H) 186 cm (W) 122 kg
His claim: Kevin has represented the Cheetahs u18 age level in 2005, and has been in the Cheetahs system since, mostly playing for the Griffons in the CC.
The Bok prop contenders in my humble opinion:
Loosehead: Beast, by a thread. He will be pushed hard this season by Dean Greyling who will look to bounce back from a poor debut in Australia, and by Coenie who was unlucky, to have been carrying an injury at the time.
Tighthead: Jannie is quite firmly in the saddle. He will be kept honest by a host of young tightheads, like Pat Cilliers, the Adriaanse brothers, and the progress of Coenie at tighthead.
Right, that is my orange tinted perspective, let’s have it!