A move back to the Cheetahs may not be the wisest move for Western Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn.
Ebersohn is having a stellar season for this year’s Super Rugby surprise packages, and last weekend returned to haunt his former team-mates by kicking 13 points in a 23-16 win in Bloemfontein.
He held his own against opposite number Johan Goosen – ironically the player who kept him out of the Cheetahs team a couple of seasons ago – which eventually led to Ebersohn’s move abroad.
Ebersohn left the Cheetahs for the Force at the end of 2012, claiming he was not given the game time he was promised.
His lack of playing time in Bloemfontein was perhaps justified, as he had developed a reputation for producing erratic performances. His goal-kicking was also not up to scratch (who remembers the missed penalty from right in front to win the game against the Highlanders in 2012?!) and it was no surprise that coach Naka Drotské then opted to pick utility back Riaan Smit ahead of him.
Now it appears the Cheetahs want Ebersohn back, with media reports on Tuesday confirming their interest in luring him back to the City of Roses.
Goosen appears likely to leave the union when his contract expires after this year’s Currie Cup, and with Smit also set to depart, the men from Bloemfontein will be in need of a frontline flyhalf.
But would Ebersohn really want to return?
His game has improved markedly at a highly professional set-up at the Force – who already have eight South African players on their books.
Under the guidance of former Wallaby hooker, Michael Foley, the Force have adopted a more rigid, structured style of play which appears to suit Ebersohn’s game – more so than the Cheetahs’ free-flowing running style.
The Force have won seven out of 10 games and currently sit in a healthy fifth spot on the overall Super Rugby log and are in with a real shot at making the playoffs, while the Cheetahs are a lowly 14th overall with no chance of playoff rugby.
Ebersohn has been a big part of the Force’s success this year, contributing 105 points to date to sit in the Top 10 in the point scorer’s category.
His form has led to some pundits calling for an elevation to the Springbok ranks and his stay in Australia should also not have any bearing on that due to SARU’s policy of picking overseas-based players.
Another factor which should keep Ebersohn in Perth is the fact that he will become eligible to play for the Wallabies at the end of next season, at which point he will have spent the mandatory three years in the country.
Therefore, Sport24 feels a U-turn to Bloemfontein may not be in Ebersohn’s best interests.
Surely, having two options at potentially playing Test rugby in future is better than one, right?