Looking at the hooker position, the Cheetahs have had a fair bit of consistency over the last few seasons of Super rugby. As we look at the contenders, it will be more a case of who to select as back up for current Springbok vice captain, and current Cheetahs captain, Adriaan Strauss.
Age: 27 years – 18 November 1985
Vital Statistics: (H) 184 cm (W) 112 kg
Born in Bloemfontein, Adriaan strangely enough made his provincial debut for the Blue Bulls in 2004 at u/20 level. In the same year he represented the Junior Boks at the IRB u/19 World Championship. In 2005 he played Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup rugby for the Bulls. In 2006, he again represented the Junior Boks at the IRB u/21 World Championship. He made his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls in the same year, before joining the Cheetahs in 2007. He has become the Cheetahs 1st choice hooker, and has captained the Cheetahs on numerous occassions.
He made his bok debut vs Australia in 2008, and has 19 Bok caps. In 2012, on the End of Year Tour, he was selected as the vice captain for the Boks vs Ireland, Scotland and England. Using his opportunity as starting hooker for the Boks, Adriaan has enhanced his reputation, with some standout performances. His leadership also came through strongly on the end of year tour.
Age: 27 years – 16 May 1986
Vital Statistics: (H) 178 cm (W) 110 kg
Hercú was born in Postmasburg, and attended school at Grey College. He made his representative debut at the 2004 u/18 Craven Week. He went on to represent SA Schools in 2005, the Cheetahs at u/21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup. He played for the Mighty Elephants in 2009, and was considering retirement due to a long term injury, when Naka lured him back to the Cheetahs. He has since established himself as reliable back up to bok Adriaan Strauss, and the Cheetahs have been able to manage the workload of Strauss, without losing much.
Ryno Joseph Barnes:
Age: 31 years – 05 November 1981
Vital Statistics: (H) 185 cm (W) 110 kg
Born in Cape Town, Ryno attended school at Paarl Gym, and DF Malan. He made his provincial debut for WP in the Vodacom Cup in 2006. He moved to the Valke in 2007, playing Vodacom and Currie Cup. In 2009, he was signed by Griquas. He was part of the Royal XV that played against the touring British & Irish Lions. He has played Super Rugby for the Cheetahs since 2010, and has been a solid backup option for the Cheetahs. Ryno has a sterling season with Griquas in the 2012 Currie Cup, and is a grafter in the front row.
Age: 26 years – 30 June 1987
Vital Statistics: (H) 176 cm (W) 100 kg
Born in Namibia, the tough player attended Hendrik Verwoerd in Pretoria. He represented the Bulls u/18 Academy team in 2005. He was then contracted by the Valke. He played u/19, and u/21 for the Valke, and was then signed by the Pumas, where he quickly became a stalwart. He was selected for the 2012 Northern Barbarians side for the June internationals vs. the touring England squad. He has been contracted by the Cheetahs as from end 2012.
Bar injury, Adriaan Strauss is head and shoulders above the others in the group, and is likely to be the Cheetahs captain as well. Thus, it is a squabble for a place in the final squad of 35 between the rest. Hercú has been the deputy in the Currie Cup, and has rotated as back up hooker with Barnes. Both are solid back up options. Torsten comes with a reputation as a tough and hard working hooker, who will likely see Super rugby action at some time, given the attrition rate in this tough tournament. He may also be used as a flanker in an emergency.