Juan Smith has joined the Cheetahs and has taken part in the fitness sessions, but hasn’t taken any contact. Juan has been out since February 2011, so it is understandable that the coaches are taking a conservative approach. Apart from Smith, several of the Cheetahs frontline players will not feature in the warm-up match versus the Lions on Saturday.
Other frontline players who won’t feature are: Coenie Oosthuizen (prop), Andries Ferreira (lock), Martin Muller (lock), Heinrich Brüssow (flank), Lappies Labuschagne (flank), Phillip van der Walt (eigthman), Johan Goosen (flyhalf), Johan Sadie (centre), Willie le Roux (utility back) and Rayno Benjamin (wing).
Francois Brummer, the highly rated flyhalf who’s career stalled at the Bulls, is looking at using the warm-up matches to stake his claim as the pre-eminent back-up flyhalf to Johan Goosen.
The Cheetahs use a lot of Griquas players, so the warm up matches serve as trials, as the coaches search for the best combinations and synergy. The best available 22 will probably only be seen versus the Bulls on 9 February.
Other “trail matches” are on Saturday versus the Lions, then the Stormers on 2 February and franchise partners Griquas on 6 February.