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TOYOTA CHEETAHS:

PROPS:

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.

 

My picks:

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.

 

HOOKERS:

 

Jan Adriaan Strauss:

D.O.B: 18 November 1985
Vital Statistics: (H) 184 cm (W) 108 kg

His claim: Born and schooled in the City of Roses, Adriaan Strauss seems to have been a late bloomer, he made his senior debut for the junior Boks at the IRB u19 Junior World Championship in 2004, and actually started his provincial career with the Bulls in 2004(sacriledge I tell you). No doubt the presence of a certain Naka Drotske, in the Cheetahs setup at the time influenced such a move. Fortunately he returned to the Cheetahs in 2007, and has since established himself as one of the stalwarts in the Cheetahs franchise. He has also captained the Cheetahs with great success. Adriaan is unfortunate in that his career has been in an era when South Africa has been blessed by an abundance of top class hookers in John Smit, and Bismarck du Plessis.

Strengths: A strong scrummager, and a very energetic player. Adriaan’s allround play is of a high standard, he is accurate with his lineout throw-ins, contests well at rucks, and is an exceptionally strong ball carrier. He is sure to break a few tackles, and makes useful yards. In addition, he rarely loses the ball in contact. Despite being a physical player, he is not known for overly robust play.

Weakness: Not much that I can criticise the man on, except for his old “Bulls” “error in judgement.”

Bok Potential: Bok (No. 800) He has 9 tests under his belt, and in another era, he couldwell have had many more. As mentioned, his career coincided with that of John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis. Add that the dubious selection of players of colour to appease politicians, that saw a players like Shimange and Rallepele get selected ahead of him, he could have played more tests imo of course. In terms of ability, he is not far off the standards of Bismarck, and his low error rate, and good discipline makes him a good option as bok hooker. He certainly wont be out op place in a bok scrum, and he will keep the likes of Bismarck, and Chilli on their toes. Other contenders are Tiaan Liebenburg, Deon Fourie, and maybe later players like junior Bok Mbonambi, and Scarra Ntubeni.

 

Ryno Joseph Barnes:

D.O.B: 05 November 1981
Vital Statistics: (H) 185 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim: Ryno started his career with the WP in the Vodacom Cup of 2006. He has been around the block, with stints at the Valke from 2007 to 2008, before settling down at Griquas. He has been the incumbent hooker at the Griquas since, and has been the back up to Adriaan Strauss in the Super tournaments.

Strengths: He is a solid option at hooker, and he fulfils his hooker duties very well. Whilst not quite as busy as Strauss in the loose, he is very effecient as a scrummager, and line out thrower. A very dependable player.

Weaknesses: At 30, he is getting a bit long in the tooth, but as a back up player, he can still go a few years.

Bok potential: Unlikely given the competition, and his age.

 

Pieter-Willem van Vuuren:

D.O.B: 10 January 1988
Vital Statistics: (H) 180 cm (W) 100 kg

His claim: PW has quite a distinguished rugby career for such a young man, and has been groomed for success at the Cheetahs form a young age. Captaining Free State Schools at under 12/13 level, he went on to represent the Free State at u/16 2004; Free State Schools and SA Schools u/18 in 2006; IRB u/19 World Championship in 2007, and IRB Junior World Championship in 2008. He has also represented the Cheetahs at u/21 and Vodacom Cup level before starting in the 2011 Currie Cup.

Strengths: A strong lad, he is a busrtling player. Very mobile, and accurate in his lineout throws. He has massive potential, and has loads of experience for such a young man. Also has leadership qualities.

Weaknesses: Has had quite a few injuries in his career, but will hope to have put that behind him.

Bok Potential: Has represented South Africa at SA Schools level, as well as at u/19, and Junior Bok level. He is not a short term prospect, but at 24, he has time on his side barring injury.

 

Hercúlaas Johannes (Hercu) Liebenberg:

D.O.B: 16 May 1986
Vital Statistics: (H) 178 cm (W) 106 kg

His claim: Not as well known as older brother Tiaan, he has however also been in the Cheetahs system since u18 Craven week in 2004. He captained Grey colleg in 2004, and has represented the Cheetahs at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, and recently Currie Cup level. He has also been loaned to the Griffons and EP Mighty Elephants.

Strengths: He is useful player, and performs his primary functions well

Weaknesses: Isn’t quite as aggresive in his play as his brother.

Bok potential: He is way down in the pecking order, and at 26, he will be hard pressed to oust incumbent, Bismarck, and pretenders, Strauss, Rallepele, van Vuuren, Mbonambi, and Ntubeni.

 

Wild Card:

Simon Westraad:

D.O.B: 31 March 1986
Vital Statistics: (H) 177cm (W) 108 kg

His claim: Simon represented EP Schools at the 2004 Craven Week, and went on to represent WP at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup level before moving to Griquas in 2009. He also played vs the British Lions as part of the southern Kings squad.

 

My pick:

Adriaan Strauss is a cut above the rest, and should be the man! Ryno Barnes has been the deputy in past seasons, but the recent form of PW van Vuuren, and the need to build continuity might see, him get the nod. The experience of Barnes can’t easily be ignored. I expect to see a horses for courses approach by Naka, which should see plenty of game time for the three aforementioned hookers. Hercu, will probably fight it out with Westraad as a reserve hooker in case of injuries.

Together with players like Coenie, (recovering well from his operation) WP Nel, Marcel vd Merwe, Adriaanse, Butterworth, van Niekerk, and Nyakane, the Cheetahs are well covered in the front row, and should be able to field a useful combination right through, what will be a gruelling season. As GBS posted, the Cheetahs need the locks to make the front row destructive. I will look at the “Tall timber” contenders for the season next.

LOCKS:

Andries Stephanus Ferreira:

D.O.B: 29 March 1990

Vital Statistics: (H) 197 cm (W) 117 kg

His claim: Born in Despatch, the dorpie of famous players like Danie Gerber, and “Domkrag” Erasmus, Andries made his mark, at the u/16 Craven Week for EP in 2005, He also represented the Blue Bulls, at u/18 Craven Week and SA Schools team in 2008. He has represented the Bulls, at u/19, u/21, and Vodacom Cup. He signed for the Cheetahs to get more game time, and has already impressed in his first “practice” match vs the Griffons.

Strengths: Haven’t seen much of the man, but at 197 cm, and 117 kg’s he is quite strapling lad, that could add considerable bulk to the Cheetahs 2nd row. He is earmarked to fill the spot left vacant by Wilhelm Steenkamp for the No. 5 lock position.

Weaknesses: Haven’t seen him play as yet.

Bok Potential: Only 22, time is on his side to establish himself. The void left by Big Vic, and Bakkies, will ensure a good old squabble for places in the bok second row in years to come. Bekker has the inside track, but guys like Juandre Kruger, Hargreaves, Eztebeth, and a host of other including Ferreira will have a full tilt.

 

Francois Uys:

D.O.B: 12 March 1986

Vital Statistics: (H) 194 (W) 108 kg

His claim: Francois Uys represented the Valke at the 2005 u/18 Craven week. He went on to represent the Lions at U/19 level, as well as the Junior Boks at the 2005 IRB u/19 World Championships. He moved to the Cheetahs in 2009, and played against the British & Irish Lions. He has become the Cheetahs “hard man” in the team, and is highly under rated. Equally proficient as a backrow forward, he has successfuly made the transition to lock.

Strength: Very mobile and athletic, he jumps well at the front of the line-outs, and is a good ball carrier, and link man. With the likes of Juan back to take tail ball, the Cheetahs will be very competitive in the line-outs.

Weaknesses: Not the tallest, but using shorter, robust, and even converted flankers has become a bit of the norm of late.

Bok potential: The competition for the Bok locking position is open, and the boots that need to be filled are big indeed. Don’t think Uys will be seen as a contender for Bakkies’No. 4 place, but who knows. Other contenders are Roodt, Estebeth, Jandre Marais, Flip vd Merwe, and Elstadt.

 

George (Gorgeous George) Earl:

D.O.B: 9 January 1987

Vital Statistics: (H) 197 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim: Durban born George, started his rugby career at the u/18 Craven week in 2005 representing Natal. He then signed with WP, and represented WP at u/19, u/21 and Vodacom Cup level, before moving to Boland Cavaliers for the 2009 season. He then moved to the Lions where he made a useful contribution in the 2010 Super 14. Currently contracted to Griquas, he will add value to the Cheetahs Super Rugby campaign, which is sure to be ardous.

Strengths: Quite a sturdy lad at 110 kg, he has impressed with his lineout jumping and his ball carries.

Weaknesses: None to my knowledge

Bok potential: It’s open season, and although some players are earmarked, no reason why the younger players can’t force their way in. At 25, George is still in his prime.

 

Izak Petrus van der Westhuizen:

D.O.B: 23 January 1986

Vital Statistics: (H) 196 cm (W) 111kg

His claim: Starting his representative rugby for Griquas at the 2004 u/18 Craven week, he has been in the Cheetahs system since. He has represented the Cheetahs at u/19, U/21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup level. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2011.

Strengths: Athletic player, he has done relatively well in his appeareances for the Cheetahs.

Weaknesses: None that I am aware of, he just has to impose himself on his opponents.

Bok potential: At 26, he can still make the step up.

 

John Charles Astle:

D.O.B: 30 August 1990

Vital statistics: (H) 198 (W) 92 kg

His claim: Highly regarded in the cheetahs camp, JC represented the Natal Schools at the 2008 u/18 Craven week. He has since represented the Cheetahs at u/19,u/21 and Vodacom Cup level, as well as in the Varsity Cup.

Strengths: Don’t know much about him, except that the Cheetah coaches hold im in high regard

Weaknesses: If the SA Rugby stats of 92 kg is to believed, he will need to bulk up pretty fast to compete

Bok potential: None at present.

 

Martin Dirk Muller:

D.O.B: 23 March 1988

Vital statistics: (H) 198 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim: Bishops boy, Martin represented WP and SA Schools at u/18 level in 2006 and continuedrepresenting WP, at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup level. He also represented SA at the 2008 IRB Junior World Championship. He signed for Griquas in 2011, and was immediately used by the Cheetahs in the 2011 Super Rugby tournament.

Strengths: He is a very good lineout option, and is prepared to mix it.

Weaknesses: None to my knowledge.

Bok potential: As a former Junior Bok, why not! and aged 24, he can still force his way in.

 

Ockert Petrus (Okkie) van Zyl:

D.O.B: 06 May 1991

Vital statistics: (H) 195 cm (W) 94 kg

His claim: Made his debut for the Cheetahs u/19 in 2010, and played for the Griquas u/21 in 2011, I am in the dark in all honesty. He went to school in Nelspruit according to Sa Rugý’s stats, which makes me even more embarresed that I can’t shed more light.

 

Petrus van der Walt (Waltie) Vermeulen:

D.O.B: 11 November 1988

Vital statistics: (H) 198 cm (W) 112 kg

His claim: Born and raised in the City of Roses (literally and figuratively) Waltie represented the Cheetahs at 2006 Craven week for u/18’s. He has since represented the Cheetahs at u/21, Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup, and Super 14 level. He has performed satisfactoraly, without making huge waves, but will look to establish himself.

Strengths: A good lineout proponent, and he hasn’t been shy to mix it.

Weaknesses: No apparent weaknesses, just needs to assert himself on the opposition more.

Bok potential: At 23, he can still get there.

 

Wild Cards:

 

Frederik Albertus (Frikkie) Spies:

D.O.B: 08 February 1985

Vital statistics: (H) 196 cm (w) 120kg

His claim: Born in my birthtown of Odendaalsrus, Frikkie represented the Lions at u/20, u/21, Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup level. He has also represented the Cheetahs and Boland Cavaliers before moving to Griquas.

Strenghts: He is quite a big fellow at 120 kg’s, but I haven’t seen him play enough.

 

Jaco Nepgen:

D.O.B: 03 January 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 198 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim: Another player from the Maties factory. Jaco represented Boland at u/18 in 2004, before being selected by WP. He represented WP at u/19, and u/21, as well as SA Students in 2008 and 2009. He then moved to Griquas and has played Vodacom cup, and Currie Cup for them.

Strengths: Tall, and strong, he is also a useful flanker.

 

Rynhard Jaco (Ligtoring) Landman:

D.O.B: 24 July 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 196 cm (W) 114 kg

His claim: Apart from his nickname, which is quite descriptive, Rynard has been around the block. He started by representing EP at the u/18 Craven week in 2004. He then represented the Leopards at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup. He was also selected for the Royal XV that faced the British & Irish Lions in 2009, as well as being drafted into the 2009 Lions Super 14 squad. He was also part of the successful Boland Cavaliers side of 2011.

Strengths: Anothe strapling lad that can add bulk to the second row.

 

Christiaan Stephanus (Windpomp) van Rooyen:

D.O.B: 29 April 1981

Vital statistics: (H) 200cm (W) 137 kg

His claim: Part of the successful u/21 World Champion side of 2002, that included players like Rathbone, and Pedrie Wannenburg, Windpomp (another colourful name) has been around the block. He has represented Leopards at u/21 and Cuurie Cup level, and has also played for Griquas, and Griffons at Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup level. He has Super Rugby experience, courtesy of a stint with the Cats in 2005. He is getting a bit long in the tooth at 31, but he could be useful should injuries decimate.

Strengths: If his weight of 137 kg is correct, then he needn’t even push in the scums, he can just lean against them.

 

My Picks:

If we look at recent player movements to Griquas, Griffons, and Cheetahs, the Cheetahs franchise, suddenly find themselves with a wealth of talent to pick from. Arguably most of these big fellas, aren’t the starts of 2011, but most have been around the scene for a few years, and could add value. What is apparent, is that the Cheetahs, have loads of Tall Timber to use if injuries mount.

At 4, Francois Uys is very underrated. A high workrate and a physical presence makes him invaluable. Other players that could force Naka’s hand, and provide useful rotation, are George Earle, Izak vd Westhuizen, and Ligtoring Landman.

At 5 there is good competition. Andries Ferreira should have the inside track, with Martin Muller injured. Other players that could challenge are Frikkie Spies, Waltie Vermeulen, Izak vd Westhuizen, and if fit in time Muller.

To summarise. The Cheetahs who are notorius for getting unheralded players to perform exceptionally well as a team, the lock stocks look good for 2012.

So a tight five selected from Coenie, Marcel vd Merwe, Strauss, Barnes, WP Nel, Adriaanse, Ferreira, Uys, Earle and vd Westhuizen should be quite useful in what will be a stern testing enviroment!

 

LOOSEFORWARDS:

 

Heinrich Wilhelm Brussow:

D.O.B: 21 July 1986

Vital Statistics: (H) 181 cm (W) 102 kg

His claim: Affectionately known by some as “Ratel” The baby faced assassin has made a profound impact in Bok and International Rugby. Born and schooled in Bloem, and a product of the esteemed rugby factory Grey College, Heinrich has excelled at every level he has played. He represented the Cheetahs at the 2004 u/18 -Craven Week and has played for the Cheetahs at every conceivable level since. He was a nominee for Sasol Young player of the year in 2008, SA Young Player of the Year in 2009, and also Provincial Player of the Castle 2009 Lions Series. Brussow got his chance for the Boks when Schalk Burger withdrew due to injury in the first test vs The british & Irish Lions in Durban, and made an immediate impact, also scoring a try. He has become an integral part of the Bok team, but injury has curtailed his effect somewhat.

Strengths: A scavenger of note, Brussow has made contesting rucks an art. He strikes fear in the hearts of opponents. Despite his size, Ratel is equally good at ball carries. extremely powerful, and with a good eye for space, Brussow is a tricky customer to bring down.

Weaknesses: Recently, his career has been bedeviled by injuries. Hopefully he can maintain an injury free run for a while. A fit Brussow, is a joy to behold, and crucial to the Cheetahs and Bok success.

Bok potential: Bok No. 801, Brussow already has 20 caps, and is a recognized international openside flanker. Only turning 26, he will be hard to oust, if he stays fit. He is a shoo in at 6, and would be in almost any International team

 

Petrus Johannes (Johan) Wessels:

D.O.B: 29 November 1988

Vital statistics: (H) 185 cm (W) 100 kg

His claim: Playing in the shadow of great openside flankers like Brussow, and “Karamba” Kabamba Floors, it took a while for Johan Wessels to gain recognition. He represented the Griffons at u/16, and u/18 Craven Week, in 2004, and 2006 respectively. He has gone on to represent the Cheetahs at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup, and Super Rugby level. Were it not for the presence of Floors, we might well have seen more of this talented, and hard working player.

Strengths: Like Brussow, he is stocky and powerfully built. He is a very accomplished ball scavenger, and would be a possible 1st choice at many other teams. He is also a good tackler, and ball carrier, and the Cheetahs have a very able replacement in Wessels should Brussow get injured.

Weaknesses: No real weaknesses. Good player

Bok potential: Only 23, anything can happen. There aren’t too many scavengers in the Brussow mold, so he may well become a contender in the future. Other openside flanks that will als hope for higher honours are, Stegmann, Tecklenburg, Minnie, Daniels, and fellow Cheetah Lappies Labuschagne, as well as Nazeem Carr.

 

Justin Downey:

D.O.B: 11 November 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 191 cm (W) 105 kg

His claim: Johannesburg born, Justin came through the ranks in Natal rugby. He represented Natal at u/16 Duikers (strange fishy name lol), as well as u/21, Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby (2009) level. Justin was also sent the Mexted’s Rugby Academy. He moved to Griquas in 2010, and shows alot of promise.

Strengths: Tall and strong, the Sharks loss, may well become Cheetahs gain. Heard alot, but need to see more of him.

Weaknesses: Can’t say, but feel free to contribute

Bok Potential: Pretty tall for an opensider, he is behind Brussow, and Stegmann in the Bok setup at the moment, and it will take a huge effort to force his way in.

 

Pieter Hermias (Lappies) Labuschagne:

D.O.B: 11 January 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 189 (W105)

His claim: Playing in the company of fellow Shimla stars like Boom Prinsloo, Marcel van der Merwe, and Willie Britz, Lappies announced himself spectacularly for the Cheetahs in the 2011 Currie Cup. He scored some scintillating tries, and we hardly noticed the absence of stars like Brussow, Johnson, and Smith, as he and fellow loosies Boom Prinsloo, and van der Walt sowed mayhem in the Currie Cup. He has represented the Cheetahs since the 2007 u/18 Craven week, and u/19, u21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup. Surely a Super rugby debut is not far off.

Strengths: Tall, fleet of foot, and a very intelligent player. he runs into space, and is deceptively quick. Also a good lineout proponent.

Weaknesses: Not a weakness, more a case of bad luck to play in an era where Brussow is master class.

Bok potential: Lots of openside flankers in contention, but this lad can play, so maybe!

 

Juanne Hugo (Juan) Smith:

D.O.B: 30 July 1981

Vital statistics: (H) 196 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim: Almost too many accolades to mention. Juan has represented the Cheetahs from u/21 in 2002, and in the same year represented South Africa at the IRB World Championship. He has played at every representative level for the Cheetahs and has also successfuly captained them. A World Cup winner in 2007, he was also a part of the 2003 World Cup squad. He is currently the most capped (69) Springbok looseforward, despite, being out injured for most of 2010 and 2011. He has 12 test tries, and is regarded as one of the best 7 flankers in the world. Likened to the legendary bok hard man Andre Venter, is high praise indeed.

Strengths: Not a particularly big man by modern standards, but he is a supreme athlete. A great option at the back of the lineout, a fearless defender, and a good linking player. He is a feared opponent.

Weaknesses: Serious injuries in 2010, and 2011, have prevented him from adding to his test tally. All bok supporters will hope that he can regain his best form

Bok potential: Capped 69 times (10 as 8th man, and 59 as flank) his pedigree is beyond question, more a question of will he regain his form, and remain injury free. If yes, a possible Captain role, and a definate selection for the next 2 -3 years.

 

Christoffel Philippus (Philip ) van der Walt:

D.O.B: 14 July 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 194 cm (W) 105 kg

His claim: Product of EP Schools, whom he representes at the u/18 Craven week in 2007, Philip, then signed with the Cheetahs,and has represented the Cheetahs, at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, Cuurie Cup, and Super Rugby level. In Cheetahs country, he is being groomed as a possible successor for Juan Smith.

Strengths: Like Juan, he is tall, strong ad very athletic. A fearless defender, and a good lineout jumper.

Weaknesses: No apparent weaknesses, but we will watch his progress.

Bok potential: As stated, loose forwards are a dime a dozen in SA. He has the potential, and at 22, he can push for future selection, but it is a extremely competitive position, where he will compete with players of the calibre of Juan, Alberts, Deysel, Josh Strauss, Marcel Coetzee, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Arno Botha, and Michael Rhodes. No doubt, we can add more names.

 

Ashley Francois Johnson:

D.O.B: 16 May 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 184 cm (W) 110 kg

His claim: A product of Paarl Gymnasium, Ash played u/18 Craven Week rugby for WP in 2004, and then moved to the Cheetahs in 2006, and represented them in the u/21 tournament, and South Africa at the IRB Junior World Champs. Conspicous with his wild afro hair style, Ashley has hit the senior scene with a bang last year. At one stage Naka need players at hooker, and so Ash was moved there, but as injuries mounted he was moved to 8th man. In last years Super Rugby tournament, he was moved to 7, and his bustling runs became a hallmark for the Cheetahs.

Strengths: Powerfully built, and a very strong runner, he is quick, and gets over the gain line with monotonous regularity. His expansive style fits in well with the Cheetahs pattern.

Weaknesses: Can be a bit inconsistent, but when on form, he is a dynamo. He will do well to maintain his form.

Bok potential: Already capped three times, he can throw his name in the hat, but the competition for Bok spots is fierce. His versatility counts in his favour being equally at home on the side or at the back of the scrum.

 

Davon Stephanus Raubenheimer:

D.O.B: 16 July 1984

Vital statistics: (H) 195 cm (W) 99 kg

His claim: Davon made his senior rugby debut for the SWD Eagles u/20 side in 2003. He also played Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup First Division for the Eagles. in 2005 he was selected for the junior Bok team that contested the IRB Junior World Championship. In 2009, he moved to Griquas, representing them in the Currie Cup, and was selected to play for the Royal XV vs the British & Irish Lions in the same year.

Strengths: Tall and fast.

Weaknesses: A bit of a beanstalk, if he wants to compete for higher honours he will have to bulk up a little.

Bok potential: Selected to tour with the Boks on the year end tour of 2009, he is yet uncapped, and is unlikely to get the nod soon in a very competitive enviroment. Where at 8, he will compete with the likes of Spies, Strauss, Vermeulen, Koster, Karemaker, and even Johnson. At 7 the competition is as fierce.

 

Leon Karemaker:

D.O.B: 18 May 1985

Vital statistics: (H) 191 cm (W) 100 kg

His claim: This talented player made his debut for WP at the Craven Week for u/18 in 2002. In 2003 he was part of the winning Junior Bok team that won the IRB Junior World Championship under the captaincy of Paul Delport. He has represented WP at age group, Vodacom Cup, and Cuurie Cup level before moving to Griquas in 2010. Unfortunately his career has been stalled first by a degenerative eye disease (Stargard’s Syndrome) diagnosed in 2002. Then in 2009 he was diagnosed with diabetes. Despite these setbacks, Karemaker has made a welcome return to senior rugby.

Strengths: Tall strong and a fast, he is a very useful 8th man.

Weaknesses: Not a weakness, but his eye disease disadvantages him to a degree.

Bok potential: Talented enough, but due to intense competition, and his career being stalled, unlikely, but what a courageous player. Respect!

 

Wild Cards:

 

Danie Burger Schoeman:

D.O.B: 26 September 1988

Vital statistics: (H) 190 cm (W) 105 kg

His claim: Born in Paarl, Burger has been on the fringes of greater honours since he first appeared for WP at the 2006 Academy Week for u/18’s. He has been a SA U19 trailist in 2006, and was part of the SA u20 squad in 2007. He has represented WP at age group and Vodacom Cup level before moving to Griquas in 2010, wher he has played Currie Cup in 2011.

 

 

Marnus Schoeman:

D.O.B: 09 February 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 178 cm (W) 96 kg

His claim: A product of Waterkloof, Marnus has quite a distinguished schools rugby career. He represented the Bulls at the 2005 u/16 Grant Khomo week, and went on to represent the Bulls and SA Schools in 2007 and 2007 at u/18 level. he made his senior debut for the Bulls at u/19 in 2007, and in 2008 he was part of the SA squad for the IRB Junior World Championship. He has also played Vodacom Cup for the Bulls in 2011. He moved to Griquas mid season in 2011.

Weaknesses: A tad short, but it’s not the size of the dog that matters, it’s the size of the fight in the dog! He clearly has talent.

 

My Picks:

With such a dearth of players to choose from, Naka will be smiling, considering that he went through a hooror season in 2011, where no less than 11 different players, played in the looseforwards, due to a succession of injuries to key players.

If fit Ratel, and Juan are automatic choices with Johnson, hard to ignore, so the combination will be the discerning factor. I would play Brussow at 6, Johnson at 7, and King Juan at 8. However, I am not coach, but competition in the squad will be intense. The final group (bar injuries) should have Brussow, Wessels, Juan, Johnson, vd Walt, and Raubenheimer. Karemaker, may be a surprise inclusion, at the expense of Raubenheimer.

 

SCRUMHALVES:

 

Petrus Erasmus (Piet) van Zyl:

D.O.B: 14 September 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 174 cm (W) 81 kg

His claim: Pretoria born, and a product of Grey Bloem, van Zyl threw his name into the Cheetahs Rugby hat in scintillating fashion during the 2011 Currie Cup. In tandem with another exciting youngster, Johan Goosen, they entertained us to no end. Shimlas in 2008, Cheetahs u/19 in 2008, Cheetahs u/21 in 2009, and then he took the Currie Cup scene by storm, with some neat breaks, crisp service, and some great running.

Strengths: Crisp and quick service to his flyhalf, he is a good defender, and clearly has no inhibitions to express himself, and to try things.

Weaknesses: Still new on the scene, we will watch with interest.

Bok Potential: A new era has dawned with a legend in Fourie du Preez moving on. SA has had some great players in the 9 jersey, and the trend is set to continue. Craven, Divan Serfontein, Garth Wright, Joost vd Westhuizen, Robert du Preez, and of course Fourie du Preez. Hougaard is the earmarked successor, but van Zyl could, if his displays so far continue, challenge. Other contenders, are a dime a dozen, Hoffman, Mc Leod, Pretorius, Vermaak, and Rademan. Early days, but yes van Zyl is only 22, so he has a bright future.

 

Mattheus Johannes (Tewis) de Bruyn:

D.O.B: 05 August 1982

Vital statistics: (h) 174 cm (W) 86 kg

His claim: Born in Hoopstad, Tewis made his debut for the Leopards u/21 in 2002, and played Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup for them till he moved to the Eagles, and then Boland. He finally settled in Bloemfontein, where he has represented the Cheetahs at Currie Cup, and Super Rugby. He is a very versatile player, that has become a stalwart for the Cheetahs. Last year, when he was required to play at flyhalf vs the Griquas, with Riaan Viljoen at flyhalf, I was expecting the worst. He delivered a virtouso performance, and they slaughtered the Griquas. 49 – 39.

Strengths: Clean pass, strong in the tackle, and very versatile. He is also an able place kicker.

Weaknesses: 30 years old, he is getting to the twilight of his career, but a very useful player to have as back-up.

Bok potential: Unlikely, but we have use for him lol.

 

Abraham Pieter Marnus Hugo:

D.O.B: 24 September 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 169 cm (W) 82 kg

His claim: Paarl Gym product, he made his senior debut for the SA u/19, whilst at Natal. He then went to Boland, where he represented them at u/21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup level from 2006 – 2009. In 2010 he moved to Griquas, and has already played Super rugby for the Cheetahs, and Currie Cup Rugby for Griquas.

Strengths: Haven’t seen him play much. Help needed!

Weaknesses: A tad short, but at scrum half, that can be forgiven lol.

Bok potential: Given the size of international scrummies in the modern era, unlikely. But I haven’t seen enough to really judge.

 

Jacques Coetzee:

D.O.B: 22 October 1983

Vital Statistics: (H) 175 cm (W) 81 kg

His claim: Born in Bethal (Does Naas Botha ring a bell?) Jacques made his debut at the Lions in 2005 at u/21 level. He has been a regular starter at the Pumas, both at scrumhalf, and flyhalf. He has played Super rugby in 2010 with the Lions, before moving to the Kings in 2011. He has since moved to Griquas.

Strengths: Good quick pass, and quite versatile, having played flyhalf occassionaly. Also a fair goal kicker.

Weaknesses: None to my knowledge

Bok potential: Unlikely given he is already 29, and the quality of the contenders.

 

Wildcards:

 

Daniel Enrico Acker:

D.O.B: 23 September 1990

Vital statistics: (H) 174 cm (W) 80 kg

His claim: Starring for the Shimlas in the Varsity Cup, Ackers made his debut for SWD at the Grant Khomo week for u/16 in 2006, and also at u/18 in 2007. Since moving to Cheetah country in 2009, he has represented the Cheetahs at u/19, u/21, and Currie Cup level.

 

Pieter Jacobus Rademan:

D.O.B: 05 September 1991

Vital statistics: (H) 177 cm (W) 83 kg

His claim: Another Grey College star, Pieter made his debut for the Cheetahs at the 2007 Grant Khomo week for u/16’s. He also represented and captained the Cheetahs at the 2009 Craven Week for u/18s. In the same year he captained the SA Schools team. He has played senior rugby for the Cheetahs in the u/19, u/21 and Vodacom Cup. In 2011 he was a star at the IRB Junior World Championship, playing 5 matches, and scoring 2 tries.

Strengths: A quick service to his flyhalf, and a good leader, a bright future beckons.

Bok Potential: Only 20, and a Junior Bok, this young man has time to hone his skills. Maybe not in the next few years, but definately a prospect for the future.

 

My Picks:

Tewis should be back early in the tournament, and his experience will be vital. Piet van Zyl has shown his promise, and Naka has useful back up. Once again, if we dig a bit, the Cheetahs are well served in this vital position. Not many stand out stars, but again more than useful players. A nice blend of youth and experience.

The final squad should contain Tewis, van Zyl, and Coetzee, with Rademan, a young man to be groomed.

 

FLYHALVES:

 

Josias Mathiem (Sias) Ebersohn:

D.O.B: 23 February 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 176 cm (W) 83 kg

His claim: The elder of the Ebersohn twins, Sias took a tad longer to make his mark, but when he did get an extended run in the Cheetahs team, he made a very good impression. Born and bred in Bloemfontein, he was eramarked for greater things as early as 2002 at the u/13 Craven Week. He has represented the Cheetahs at every level since. U/16 in 2005, Craven Week u/18 in 2007 and 2008. He also represented the Junior Bokke, in 2008 and 2009. Internationally Sias’s undoubted talent was also recognised, as he was selected to play in the Heroes Rugby Challenge at Twickenham in 2011. There he played with fellow SA players AJ Venter, and Andries Strauss for the Southern Hemishere XV.

Strengths: A gifted player, Sias is an attacking flyhalf, with a good tactical rugby brain to boot. An accomplished goal kicker too, he is the real deal.

Weaknesses: There have been questions asked of his defence, but I reckon that can be resolved

Bok potential: Only 23 next month, Sias has all the attributes of a top flyhalf, so he can definately throw his name into the hat. The Bok 10 jumper will be hotly contested in the next few years, with a number of good 10’s rising to prominence. His teammate Johan Goosen is another being earmarked for Bok colours sooner rather than later, Pat Lambie, and Elton Jantjies, will all want to lay down a marker this year.

 

Johannes Lodewikus (Johan) Goosen:

D.O.B: 27 July 1992

Vital statistics: (H) 185 cm (W) 85 kg

His claim: Born in Burgersdorp, he made the move to Grey College, to further showcase his undoubted talent. Playing flank at Primary School he then moved to flyhalf, a move which clearly paid off. He represented Border u/13 in 2005, then from there it was Cheetahs all the way. Grant Khomo Week for u/16’s in 2008, u/18’s in 2009 and 2010. SA Schools in 2009 and 2010, and IRB Junior World Championship in 2011. He made his debut for the Cheetahs in the 2011 Currie Cup. In his debut season, he made people sit up and take notice. Monster drop goals ala Frans Steyn, equally long penalty goals, and people started watching closely.

Strengths: An outrageous talent, Johan Goosen hit the SA senior rugby scene with a loud bang. He played some exciting rugby, and was named player of the month in the Currie Cup, in September. He has a eye fro a gap, good speed off the mark, and has great awareness of space. Add his 60m plus goal and drop kicks, and you have a weapon that can cause havoc. He is a suberb defender as well.

Weaknesses: His fearless approach has already left him severly concussed, after a clash vs the Lions, but that is hardly a weakness!

Bok potential: Understandably some people will want to see him perform in the Super Rugby arena first, but this lad can play! He is going to make the step up, no doubt in my mind. The way he stepped up to the Currie Cup last year was a sure sign, that this young man has BMT as well as talent. Let us not forget, he was 19 when he made his CC debut. (Naas Botha ring a bell).

 

Adriaan Jacobus (Riaan) Smit :

D.O.B: 28 April 1984

Vital statistics: (H) 178 cm (w) 85 kg

His claim: Also known as “True Blue” (wonder wher that came from), Riaan has been the proverbial rugby tourist. He made his debut at u/20 level for the Leopards in 2004, and has represented the Leopards, Pumas, Valke, and Griffons before settling down at the Cheetahs.

Strengths: Admittedly, I knew little of Riaan till last year. His utility value is immense. He was used as fullback when the injury toll mounted, then wing, and made quite an impact scoring some awesome tries.

Weaknesses: Question marks over his defence, but he was quite solid in the Super 15 last year.

Bok potential: Unlikely given his age of 28, and the talent at 10 coming through.

 

Marnitz Louis Boshoff:

D.O.B: 11 January 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 179 cm (W) 87 kg

His claim: Born in Nelspruit, Marnitz showed promise at an early age. Grant Khomo u/16 in 2005. Craven Week and SA Schools u/18 B. in 2006, he went one better in 2007 when he mase the SA Schools u/18 side. Signed by the Bulls in 2007, Marnitz has represented the Bulls, at u/19, u/21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup level. He then moved to Griquas (a team he punished in a match vs the Bulls) at the end of 2011.

Strengths: A reliable goal kicker, and a good distributor at 10. No slouch on defence either.

Weaknesses: None that I am aware of.

Bok potential: Not beyond the realms of possibility, but he will have to improve profoundly given the nature of the contenders.

 

Wildcard:

 

Willem Jacobus (Willie) le Roux:

D.O.B: 18 August 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 186 cm (w) 90 kg

His claim: Another Paul Roos product, Willie represented WP Academy for u/18’s in 2007. He made his senior debut for Boland u/21 in 2008, and he has caught the eye, with some cracking runs from fullback. Another player with great utility value, because he has also played flyhalf with success for Boland.

Strengths: Big, fast, and a balanced runner, Willie has made quite a name at Boland.

Weaknesses: Haven’t seen enough of him.

Bok potential: More of an utility player, maybe he can push for Bok colours as a 15, but even there the competition is set to be intense. Not discounting it though.

 

My Picks:

Sias Ebersohn nailed the 10 position down with some very good performances, an injury opened the door for Goosen, who didn’t let any grass grow under his feet. What a conundrum for Naka! I would start with Sias, and slowly blood Goosen, and it also allows the opportunity to rotate without comprimising on attack or on goal kicking. When and if the inevitable injuries mount, Riaan Smit, Willie le Roux and Tewis de Bruyn can all play at 10. A rarity for the Cheetahs to be so well served at 10, where in the past I wanted to pull my little hair left out, with Naka’s persistance with likes Louis Strydom, Naas Olivier, and Conrad Barnard.

 

CENTRES:

 

Andries Jacobus Strauss:

 

D.O.B: 05 March 1984

Vital statistics: (H) 186 cm (W) 94 kg

His claim: A member of the rugby Strauss clan (cousin Adriaan, and brother Richardt). Andries made his senior debut for the Cheetahs in 2003, in the u/20 ABSA Currie Cup. He has represented the Cheetahs at Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby level. In 2004 he was selected as a Junior Bok to contest the IRB u/21 World Championship. Andries then signed for the Sharks in 2006, and he represented them till the end of 2010. He was also selected to play IRB 7’s in 2007. He made a name for himself in the CC final of 2010, where he single handedly tackled the WP into submission. He returned home in 2010, and is a stalwart for the Cheetahs at 12.

Strengths: A good distributor, a devastating defender, and a powerful runner, all the attributes of a good 12. His form has also been pretty consistent.

Weaknesses: None really

Bok potential: Imho, one of the better inside centers in SA. Uncapped Bok No. 827, he played one match on the 2010 EOY tour The competition is stiff, but not impossible. He is only 28, so he has a few years left. the competition will be stiff, with the likes of Frans Steyn, Hollenbach, Olivier, and Venter all vying for the same spot.

Phillipus Albertus Borman Snyman:

 

D.O.B: 26 March 1987

Vital statistics: (H) 188 cm (W) 98 kg

His claim: Another Grey Bloem success story. Phillip has represented the Cheetahs at u/18’s Craven Week in 2004, and at every level since. He was also part of the successful IRB 7’s Bok team in 2008/9. Phillip has been used as a utility back by the Cheetahs, and has played well at wing and centre. Last year he showed his ability, when Adriaan Strauss got injured, and is a very able replacement, and a very good player to have in the squad.

Strengths: A big lad at 98 kg, Phillip is fleet of foot, a good distributer, and a very strong runner. Nothing wrong with his defensive abilities either.

Weaknesses: None really.

Bok potential: Only 25, he has the pedigree, and the skills, so no reason why he cannot throw his name into the hat.

 

Albertus Daniel (Barry) Geel:

D.O.B: 30 April 1982

Vital statistics: (H) 185 cm (W) 92 kg

His claim: Barry made his senior debut for the Leopards in 2002, and he played for them in Vodacom and Currie cup till 2006, when he moved to Griquas. He has been a regular starter for Griquas, and has also played Super rugby for the Cheetahs. He got his big break when he had to mark Maá Nonu and then SBW in the match vs the Crusaders in Bloem last year. He played very well indeed, and the Cheetahs once again caused an upset.

Strengths: A strong runner, and very useful defender.

Weaknesses: None really

Bok potential: A tad long in the tooth, I would say unlikely, but a very useful player indeed.

 

Wilmaure Derrick Louw:

D.O.B: 02 February 1987

Vital statistics: (H) 183 cm (W) 88 kg

His claim: Born and bred in Griquas country, Wilmaure has represented Griquas from u/18 Craven Week in 2005, right up to Currie Cup. He has also had a few runs for the Cheetahs in Super rugby.

Strengths: A good defender, and useful defender.

Weaknesses: Not much to complain about. Useful player.

Bok potential: Unlikely, given the class of the contenders at 13 for the Boks.

Robert Thompson Ebersohn:

D.O.B: 23 February 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 180 cm (W) 87 kg

His claim: Another prodigious talent from the Grey Bloem factory. Robert, is the younger of the illstrious Ebersohn twins, but he made his senior mark earlier than Sias. Born and bred in Bloemfontein he has quite a career thus far. Cheetah u/16 at the Grant Khomo Week in 2005, Craven week for u/18’s in 2006/7, SA Schools 2007, Cheetahs u/19 2007, IRB Junior World Championship in 2008, Cheetahs Currie Cup debut in 2008. IRB Junior World Championship, and World Cup 7’s in 2009. And has also played Super Rugby. Due to his 7’s career, he has oddly enough never represented the Cheetahs at u/21 level.

Strengths: A very incisive runner, with loads of flair, and a good awareness of space. A good defender, and is quick to contest the tackle area.

Weaknesses: There are people that says his defence is suspect, I suggest they look closer.

Bok potential: A Junior Bok twice over, he is a very gifted player, and despite not being a particularly big man in modern terms, he is well able to compete at the highest level, as he has showmn time and again on the 7’s circuit. Yes, I know 7’s is not the 15 man game, but he has been cutting the mustard for the Cheetahs in Super rugby too.

Matthew Ryan Rosslee:

D.O.B: 24 February 1987

Vital statistics: (H) 184 cm (W) 91 kg

His claim: This talented player from Rondebosch is very versatile indeed. He only rose to prominence during the Varsity Cup, where he was often amongst the top scoresr. He made his provincial debut for WP u/21 and Vodacom Cup in 2008. In 2010, he was contracted by Dawie Theron, then coach of Griquas.
Strengths: A committed player, with great hands, and a neat pass.

Weaknesses: I need to see more of him in action to rate.

Bok potential: Only 25, so he can develop, but there are fine players in contention. His versatility will help, being a better than average flyhalf.

Jean Hermanus Stemmet:

D.O.B: 06 June 1986

Vital statistic”s: (H) 186 cm (w) 95 kg

His claim: Cape Town born, and Paarl Gymnasium schooled, Jean represented WP u/18 Academy team in 2004. He went on to play for WP in u/19, u/21 Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup , till 2009. He then strangely enough fell out of favour with then coach Kobus van der Merwe, and was headhunted by Straueli at the Sharks. After one season at the Sharks in 2010, where we didn’t see much of him, he moved to Griquas in 2010.

Strengths: Haven’t seen enough to rate him.

 

Wildcards:

Werner Griesel:

D.O.B: 01 July 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 180 cm (W) 91 kg

His claim: Born in Welkom and having represented the Griffons at u/16, and u/18 level, Werner has been on the fringes of selection for the Cheetahs. He played 1 match in the 2011 Currie Cup. He has been mentioned often as a contender, but has yet to break into the top echelon at the Cheetahs franchise.

 

Thabang Molefe:

D.O.B: 06 June 1984

Vital Statistics: (H) 181 cm (W) 102 kg

His claim: Another 7’s Bok, that has been the proverbial rugby tourist. Thabang made his debut for the Bulls at u/20 level in 2004. He was a member of the Junior Boks that participated at the 2005 IRB Junior World Championship. He has also represented the Bulls at u/21 and Vodacom Cup level befoe moving across the Jukskei. He played Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup, and Super rugby for the Lions. He was also a member of the IRB 7’s Reserve squad. He moved to the Griffons via Griquas in 2009, where he has been a regular with team mate Griesel.

 

Walter (Karavan) Venter:

D.O.B: 07 August 1984

Vital statistics: (H) 180cm (W) 86 kg

His claim: A regular for the Lions in seasons past, Walter Venter has had quite a chequered rugby career. Golden lions u/18 Academy in 2001, Golden Lions Craven Week u/18 in 2002. walter went on to represent the Lions at u/20 in 2003, u/21, Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup, and Super Rugby. He has also played for the leopards and Valke. A powerful centre, and a very useful, and experienced player to be able to fall back on.

My Picks:

Wow! After so many players injured in 2011, the Cheetahs are spoilt for choice in the midfield, Yes, I know some people will say they are journeymne at best, but they are damn fine journeymen, and we all know how effective the Cheetahs can be with journeymen!.

At inside centre, I wouldn’t look past Andries Strauss, a devastating tackler, and good distributor. As back up, it’s a hard call to make between Phillip Snyman, and Geel, but I will go with Snyman. At outside centre, Robert Ebersohn has been there and done that for the Cheetahs. As backup, again hard to choose, not having seen much of Rosslee, and Stemmet. Still it is a pleasant surprise to see the depth the Cheetahs franchise have at their disposal. I mean a player of Walter Venter, and Thabang Molefe’s calibre, not even in the extended group.

So far the Cheetahs, have good depth right through the positions. Yes some haven’t made a name for themselves, some are classified as journeymen, but methinks there is something brewing in the land of the White Tornado!

 

WINGS:

 

Rayno Shannon Benjamin:

 

D.O.B: 03 August 1983

Vital statistics: (H) 187 cm (W) 87 kg

His claim: Born in Vredenburg, Rayno, is more known for his 7’s rugby exploits in the Bok 7’s team, but he has also played his fair share of 15 man rugby. He made his debut for Boland in 2004, and played Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup rugby, before being selected for the SA 7’s team in 2006. He participated in numerous tournaments on the IRB 7’s circuit from 2006 – 2009. He has also played Super rugby for three different SA teams. WP in 2006, Cheetahs in 2007, Lions in 2008, and became a regular in the Cheetahs setup in 2011, playing Currie Cup, and Super 15

Strengths: Searing pace, and strong on his feet, he is a good finisher, when given the space to move in.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent on defence, at times, good, at times downright terrible.

Bok potential: Doubtful, given the talent coming through, but still enough pace for Super 15 level.

 

Philip Boshoff Burger:

D.O.B: 28 August 1980

Vital statistics: (H) 186 cm (W) 85 kg

His claim: The undoubted acrobat of wings, Philip, has endeared himself to his fans, and annoyed opposition supporters with his antics after scoring. A delight to watch when in full flight, Philip, has had an interesting career indeed. He made his senior debut for the Cheetahs in 1999 at u/19 level, and has represented the Cheetahs at every level since. Also on his impresive resume, was a stint with the SA 7’s team in 2007, and 54 matches for Perpignan in France. Philip is an entertainer of note, unfortunately, he has also let us down with his poor defence.

Strengths: Great spacial awareness, blinding speed, and very elusive when given space. He is a great finisher, and very versatile as well.

Weaknesses: Definately not known for his defence, and this proabably remains his greatest shortcoming.

Bok potential: Extremely unlikely, at 31, he will be hard pressed to keep younger speedsters at bay for a starting berth. His value will be more as experienced back up.

 

Cameron Luciano (Cammy) Jacobs:

D.O.B 31 October 1989

Vital statistics: (H) 178 cm (W) 83 kg

His claim: Born in Port Elizabeth, Cameron represented EP at the u/16 Grant Khomo Week, in 2005, In 2006/7 he was also at the u/18 Craven week, and then represented EP at u/19 level. He moved to Cheetahs country in 2008, where he represented Shimlas in the Varsity Cup. He has been in the Cheetahs feeder system since, and last year he got his chance at Currie Cup level, and made a satisfactory debut.

Strengths: A balanced runner, strong on his feet.

Weaknesses: Too early to judge.

Bok potential: Only 22, but the competition is stiff.

 

Dusty Clint Noble:

 

D.O.B: 30 April 1984

Vital statistics: (H) 184 cm (W) 90 kg

His claim: Another player that has been around the block a few times. Dusty made his debut for Mpumalanga u/19 in 2002. Since then he has represented the Leopards, Sharks, Lions, and Griquas at various levels, as well as 2 seasons (2006/7) with the SA 7’s team.

Strengths: Fast, elusive runner, that is quite strong on his feet.

Weaknesses: Defensive lapses at times.

Bok potential: At 28, unlikely.

 

Rocco Reginald Jansen:

 

D.O.B: 21 July 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 179 cm (W) 91 kg

His claim: Rocco made his senior debut with the Leopards u/19’s in 2005, and also represented the Leopards in 2006 at u/21 level. He then signed for the Bulls in 2007, and played Vodacom, and Currie Cup for them till 2009. He was also selected for the SA Emerging Team that took part in the 2008 IRB Nations Cup. In 2010 he moved to Griquas, where he has established himself as a regular starter.

Strengths: An explosive runner, he is strong, and breaks tackles regularly.

Weaknesses: None really.

Bok potential: Despite being selected as an Emerging Bok, I don’t see him getting a Bok blazer, given the Bok contenders.

 

Adriaan Jacobus (True Blue) Smit:

D.O.B: 28 April 1984

Vital statistics: (H) 178 cm (W) 85 kg

His claim: Born in Springs, Riaan “True Blue”Smit has had an interesting career thus far. He made his debut for the Leopards u/20 in 2004, and has since played at various unions. Leopards from 2004- 2006, Pumas 2007, Valke 2008, Leopards 2009, and then finally moving to the Cheetahs in 2009. He only really got noticed when he was called on last year when injuries decimated the team, and impressed with his versatility.

Strengths: Like Burger, Riaan has excellent spacial awareness, and has got a good turn of speed to boot, add his versatility, in that he can play fullback, wing, and flyhalf, and you have a valuable utility back.

Weaknesses: Initially, I thought he was a tad small, but he has shown, that he is not short on courage on defence, or attack.

Bok potential: Already 28, extremely unlikely.

 

Jacobus Nicolaas (Nico) Scheepers:

D.O.B: 27 February 1990

Vital statistics: (H) 186 cm (W) 90 kg

His claim: Born in PE, Nico represented EP, at the u/18 Academy Week. He then moved to the Cheetahs and represented the Cheetahs at u/19 and Vodacom Cup level. In 2010, he was selected for the SA Junior Boks, for the IRB Junior World Championship. Last year he made his Currie Cup debut, and the chances are there that he may well get a taste of Super rugby in 2012.

Strengths: A powerful runner, and equally at home on the wing or at fullback.

Weaknesses: Still too early to say.

Bok potential: Still only 22, he could still make it, but presently the competition for Bok places at wing and fullback is stiff.

 

Wildcards:

Richard James Lawson:

D.O.B: 20 October 1986

Vital statistics: (H) 185 cm (W) 94 kg

His claim: Richard Lawson represented WP at the 2004 u/18’s Craven Week, and then played senior Rugby for WP at u/21, Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup, from 2006 – 2008. In 2008, he also represented SA in IRB Cup of Nations as part of the Emerging Boks Team. In 2009, he was signed by Griquas where he has played Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup rugby.

Strengths: A powerfull runner, with a big boot from the back.

Weaknesses: Haven’t seen any as yet.

 

My Picks:

The demands on wings in Super rugby, have gone beyond just searing pace. Yeoman defence, and a good boot have become neccessary skills as well. Burger is getting a tad long in the tooth, and his suspect defence counts against him. I would initially go with Rocco Jansen, and Rayno Benjamin. Both very fast, and strong runners. As back up, I would pick Noble, Riaan Smit and Scheepers, as they are both great utility players. Lawson, and Jacobs are useful and able replacements, should injuries really play a role.

 

FULLBACKS:

 

Hendrik Joseph (Hennie) Daniller:

D.O.B: 05 April 1984

Vital Statistics: (H) 194 cm (W) 101 kg

His claim: Cape Town born (poor fella) and a product of Paarl Gym. He has had quite a busy rugby career to date. u/18 Craven Week for WP in 2002, and in the same year SA Schools team. Signed for the Bulls in 2003, and was selected for the Junior Boks for the IRB- FIRA u/19 World Cup in the same year. In 2004 and 2005 he was again part of the u/21 Junior Bok team. He continued to represent the Bulls, at Vodacom Cup, and Currie Cup level until2006. He then moved to the Boland for a year, and then finally settled at the Cheetahs in 2008. He has been the prefered choice at the Cheetahs since.

Strengths: A big rangy player, with a prodigous boot. He fits the Cheetahs game plan well, linking with players on attack from deep, and sending booming touchfinders. Very good under the high bombs as well.

Weaknesses: None worth mentioning.

Bok poetential: 28 years old, I doubt it, but a very useful player to have.

 

Rudi Vogt:

D.O.B: 30 January 1983

Vital statistics: (H) 192 cm (W) 92 Kg

His claim: Born in Paarl, it seems Vogt came out of nowhere to be selected for the Emerging Boks in 2008. He started his senior rugby career at the Pumas in 2007, and he represented them in the Vodacom, and Currie Cup until 2009. In that period he experienced Super rugby action with the Lions. In 2010 he was signed by Griquas, and had a sterling season in 2011.

Strengths: Also a big lad, Rudi is a potent counter attack weapon from fullback. He is also an accomplished goal kicker. Good under the high ball, and a good punter of the ball.

Weaknesses: None really.

Bok potential: A late bloomer, it is doubtful.

 

The following contenders have already been discussed above:

Willie le Roux, Riaan Smit and Nico Scheepers.

 

My Picks:

Hennie Daniller’s big boot, safety under the high ball, and consitency, should seee him get the nod. Willie le Roux seems to be earmarked for the role fulfilled by Riaan Viljoen, and he will push Hennie hard. Strangely enough, Vogt would be a good choice for most teams, but he seems to be the last man standing, with le Roux’s “flair” factor seemingly getting Naka’s nod. Not that Vogt, lacked any attacking flair, to my mind. That said, Naka has enough cover for fullback, with Vogt, Scheepers, and Smit able to slot in should any of Daniller, or le Roux get injured.

So it’s now all down to the players and the coach. The Cheetahs have got a very useful group of players with a nice blend of experience, and youth.


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