The Toyota Cheetahs have received a timely boost with the news that both Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen and Johan Goosen will be ready for their Vodacom Super Rugby opener against the Sharks in Bloemfontein.
Oosthuizen, who has been suffering with a back and neck injury, took part in live scrums last week and is set to start off the bench when the team is named on Wednesday for the clash.
Goosen was rested for the pre-season games and did have some discomfort in his foot when kicking, but he has overcome this and will start alongside Piet van Zyl at flyhalf for the big clash.
The Cheetahs, who head off on tour in round two, will desperately want the victory to kickstart their campaign which has so often promised so much but delivered so little for their fans.
And while they may have the two stars back, they will not have the services of Heinrich Brussow, as the loose forward has been ruled out for this weekend’s game but will be fit for the tour and will travel with the Cheetahs next week.
The addition of the two Boks will make a massive difference for the Cheetahs, who struggled in their pre-season but have targeted the Sharks game as a must-win before they go on tour.
“It’s a big game for us,” coach Naka Drotske told supersport.com, “We want the victory to make sure we start on a high note. We can use the momentum as we go on tour next week, so it makes it a very important home game for us.”
There is no doubt the Sharks will arrive as favourites, but with the Cheetahs getting their gamebreaking flyhalf back, much is expected of their backline.
Goosen and Van Zyl are likely to be joined in the backline by Robert Ebersohn and Johan Sadie, while Raymond Rhule, Willie le Roux and Hennie Daniller are likely to round out the back three.
In any circles that would be a very expansive backline that can attack from anywhere, but the Cheetahs will need to look to their age-old problem of losing concentration at crucial times if they are to make an impact in the competition.
The team will be announced on Wednesday.