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Toyota Cheetahs

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WP Nel

WP Nel

At the end of a trying season of provincial rugby under the sweltering South African sun, Willem Petrus Nel trudged exhausted from the field.

He turned to his coach and mentor, Pierre Ribbens, a distinguished ex-prop for the Bulls in what is now the Super 15 competition, the cream of the Southern Hemisphere game.

“I think I’m done with rugby – I don’t want to play anymore,” he said.

In late 2008, the 22-year-old tight-head had completed his agricultural studies, his certificate signed and stamped. From university some 250 miles to the south, the pull of home, the sheep farm he had been raised tending and the rolling mountains of the Northern Cape was strong.

“Give me a week,” replied Ribbens.

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Reniel Hugo

Reniel Hugo

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Toyota Cheetahs have secured the services of FNB UP-Tuks lock, Reniel Hugo.

The 24-year-old lock has signed a deal which will keep him in Bloemfontein until the end of the 2016 season.

Hugo represented Tuks for the past 2 years after joining from Maties.

He was earlier this week also named as captain of the Varsity Cup Dream Team to play against the Junior Springboks in Stellenbosch, next week Tuesday.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux will sit out the Toyota Cheetahs clash with the Reds this weekend due to the rest agreement with SA Rugby.

Le Roux will be replaced by Coenie van Wyk in the starting line-up as the only change to the team that beat the Western Force last Saturday in Perth.

This will mark the 9th Super Rugby encounter between the Cheetahs and the Reds, since their 1st match in March 2006.

The Reds are leading the way with 5 wins to 3.

It will also be the 5th time the teams meet at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, since the 1st encounter.

The Cheetahs has won 3 previous matches in Bloemfontein to the Reds 1.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls held onto their leadership of a ferociously contested South African Conference on a weekend of success at the expense of Australian teams.

The Vodacom Bulls maintained their 2-point advantage over the DHL Stormers on the Log – as both recorded bonus point victories over the Reds (43 / 22) and Waratahs (32 / 18) respectively – while the Toyota Cheetahs showed enormous character to finish their tour on a high in Perth, with a win over the Western Force (24 / 15).

In the South African derby at Emirates Airlines Park, the Emirates Lions underlined the seriousness of their challenge for the Conference title with 2-point victory (23 / 21) over a significantly improved Cell C Sharks, who missed a long-range last-kick penalty, which could have snatched the victory.

The upshot of the weekend was that the Top 4 SA teams are separated by just 4 Log Points – in contrast to their fellow conferences where the Hurricanes top the standings as New Zealand’s Top 4 are spread by 11 points, while an even more clear-cut Australian race sees the Brumbies head a Log in which 17 points cover the Top 4 Australian contenders.

3 Of SA’s winners had to overcome halftime deficits to record victories, with the most notable being those of the DHL Stormers and Toyota Cheetahs who achieved it on Australian soil.

However, the margins were small – both trailed by 2 points – while the Emirates Lions turned round 3 points adrift of the Cell C Sharks, as all 3 teams showed fitness and character to ‘win’ the 2nd half.

In the other match, the Vodacom Bulls’ recent home success over the Reds continued, as they stomped to a 6-try victory, with Francois Hougaard scoring 2 tries from the wing to take his tally to 4 for the season and therefore joining Marcell Coetzee as the leading South African try scorers.

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Super RugbyWith only 2 points separating 4 of the South African franchises on the Vodacom Super Rugby log after 8 weeks of play, Round 9 of the competition will again be crucial for local teams, with the derby in Johannesburg between the Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks set to attract huge interest from spectators.

The remaining 3 South African sides play Australian opponents on Saturday, with the DHL Stormers taking on the Waratahs in Sydney, the Toyota Cheetahs playing the Western Force in Perth and the Vodacom Bulls closing out a big weekend of rugby in their Pretoria clash against the Reds.

The DHL Stormers will be looking for a 1st tour win against the defending champion Waratahs, knowing that the home side has won 12 of their last 13 matches in Sydney, with a victory margin of 18 points per match.

The Toyota Cheetahs will still be chasing a 1st overseas win in 2015, when they close out their tour against the Western Force at the NIB Stadium in Perth. The Cheetahs have won at this venue in the past, but will have to defend like never before.

They average the most missed tackles in the competition, while the home side maintains the best tackling success rate (90%).

The Emirates Lions host the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park in the only South African derby of the weekend, which is expected to be a fiercely contested clash. The home team is well aware that a win could push them into 1st place in the South African conference, albeit that the Vodacom Bulls could again overhaul them later in the evening.

The Cell C Sharks will be desperate to put their recent misfortunes behind them and win away from home.

The Vodacom Bulls take on the Reds, who despite not having the greatest of seasons, have a good record against the Loftus Versfeld team, winning 10 of their 16 encounters. Continue reading

Sarel Pretorius

Sarel Pretorius

The Toyota Cheetahs have named live-wire scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius in the starting 15 for their match against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday.

There are only 2 changes to the Cheetahs team, namely up front where BG Uys starts and Danie Mienie moving to the bench and at the back with Sarel Pretorius back in the starting line-up and Tian Meyer on the bench.

This will mark the 9th Super Rugby encounter between the 2 teams.

The Western Force is leading with 5 wins to the 3 wins of the Cheetahs.

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CheetahsToyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has named his team to take on Australian conference leaders the Brumbies in the Super Rugby clash in the Canberra on Saturday.

Drotské has made no less than 8 changes to the starting line-up, as well as positional shifts to his loose forward trio.

Fullback Willie le Roux, centres Johann Sadie and Francois Venter, scrumhalf Tian Meyer, lock Carl Wegner, hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld, and props Coenie Oosthuizen and Danie Minnie are all new faces in the starting team from the one which lost 37 / 27 to the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend.

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Carel Greeff

Carel Greeff

The Toyota Cheetahs have called up loose forward Carel Greeff as they prepare for their Super Rugby tour match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.

Greeff, who played for Griquas in the Vodacom Cup at the weekend, will replace Jean Cook.

Cook injured his groin in the warm-up prior to last weekend’s 37 / 27 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

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Jean Cook

Jean Cook

The Toyota Cheetahs received another injury setback as they look for some redemption on their Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia, with flanker Jean Cook heading home as another casualty of the tough 2 weeks in New Zealand.

The Cheetahs face the Brumbies on Saturday in their 3rd tour game – traditionally the toughest week on tour – and will need to choose a new loose trio again if they are to make any headway and return home with some points.

Cook has a groin injury and has already left for home. He will see a specialist back in Bloemfontein to ascertain the extent of the injury.

But he is the 2nd loose forward in as many weeks to suffer the same injury, after Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje returned home and is out for up to 12 weeks with a similar injury. Mohoje underwent an operation last week to put him back on the road to recovery.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls delivered their top performance of the season as the Emirates Lions recorded their best Vodacom Super Rugby tour yet during an exciting weekend of Southern Hemisphere rugby.

The match in Pretoria was the undoubted highlight of the weekend from a quality point of view, with the Vodacom Bulls extending their winning run at home over the Crusaders after winning 31 / 19.

For sheer audacity, the Emirates Lions deserve a lot of plaudits for beating the Reds by 18 / 17 in Brisbane on Friday morning and thus ending their tour on 3 wins from 4 – their best Australasian return yet.

The Cell C Sharks meanwhile moved to the Top of the South African Conference and into the Top 3 on the log with a hard-fought 15 / 9 win over the Force in Durban on Saturday afternoon, scoring all their points in the 2nd half.

The Toyota Cheetahs and DHL Stormers found the going tough in New Zealand though as both went down – the side from Central South Africa by 37 / 27 to the Chiefs in Hamilton and the Capetonians by 39 / 21 to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

A number of changes have been made to the Toyota Cheetahs team to play the Chiefs in a Super Rugby match in Hamilton on Saturday.

There are no less than 6 changes to the starting line-up, including a rest for Springbok duo Coenie Oosthuizen and Willie Le Roux.

Springbok flank Teboho Mohoje is already on his way back home, suffering an injury to his groin in last week’s tough encounter against the Crusaders. Mohoje is expected to be sidelined for 8 / 12 weeks, and Tienie Burger will be flying to Hamilton as cover for the Cheetahs, with Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo slotting into the starting line-up.

As per agreement with SA Rugby, Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen are being rested. Nicholas ‘Maks’ van Dyk moves into the front row to replace the Springbok tighthead, with Clayton Blommetjies shifting to fullback to allow the return of Cornal Hendricks on the right wing.

Centre Francois Venter sits this one out, and Michael van der Spuy comes off the bench to play in the midfield.

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Teboho Mohoje

Teboho Mohoje

The Toyota Cheetahs were given a massive setback Wednesday when their worst fears about the injury to Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje filtered through.

Mohoje tore his groin muscle in the big loss in Christchurch against the Crusaders on Saturday and will need surgery as soon as possible.

The big Springbok flanker has already left the side en route back to Bloemfontein to see a specialist and prepare for the surgery, but the initial diagnosis is that he will be out for at least 8 to 12 weeks.

The Cheetahs have called up Shimlas flanker Tienie Burger to join the side but it is clear Mohoje’s injury has hit them hard.

The Bok is unlikely to play again in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition, although depending on his rehabilitation there is a slight chance he could return to the field for the last 2 games of their campaign… all of which creates another headache for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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CrusadersTodd Blackadder has named his side to take on the Cheetahs this Saturday, making 4 changes to the starting line-up that beat the Lions last weekend.

In the forwards, hookers Codie Taylor and Ben Funnell will rotate so that Taylor starts at No 2.

Matt Todd, named captain for the season, returns to the team to play at No 7 this week – replacing All Black captain Richie McCaw.

However, Kieran Read retains the captaincy for this match.

In the backline, Israel Dagg returns from injury to take the fullback spot, while Kieron Fonotia moves onto the wing following Johnny McNicholl’s knee (posterior cruciate ligament) injury last week.

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Heinrich Brüssow

Heinrich Brüssow

Toyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has named his team to tackle the Crusaders in their Super Rugby clash in Christchurch on Saturday (kick-off 08:35 SA Time).

Heinrich Brussow will start at flank after impressing off the bench against the Sharks last weekend,.

Brussow is 1 of 4 newcomers to the starting team named on Wendesday.

The others are scrumhalf Tian Meyer, flyhalf Joe Pietersen and wing Clayton Blommetjies.

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CheetahsCell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks picked up their second victory of the Super Rugby campaign as they saw off the Toyota Cheetahs 27 / 10 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

An improved performance was always on the cards following the defeat the men from Durban suffered against Stormers in their previous outing and the revival particularly at scrum-time will be encouraging for both the Super Rugby team and the Springbok coaching set-up.

The experience Tendai Mtawarira and brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis brought to the game was crucial on the day, but the real winner for the Sharks was their defence against a Cheetahs outfit that was predictably full of running.

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Vodacom Bulls vs Toyota Cheetahs

The Vodacom Bulls’ recent revival continued as they secured a 39 / 20 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday… moving them to 2nd in the SA Conference.

Handré Pollard was the visitors’ hero as he contributed 29 points via a try, 5 penalties, 3 conversions and a drop-goal. After last weekend’s morale-boosting win over the Sharks, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will be delighted with the way his side dominated this game for large periods.

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Johannes 'Boom' Prinsloo

Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo

The Cheetahs have made 1 change to the team that beat the Blues last weekend with Springbok Sevens star Johannes Prinsloo starting on the flank against the Bulls.

Prinsloo, who has made a big impact coming off the bench in the Cheetahs’ 2 games against the Sharks and Blues thus far, gets his shot due to an injury to No 8 Willie Britz.

Coach Naka Drotske has moved Jean Cook into the vancant No 8 position and put Prinsloo onto the side of the scrum.

The only other change comes on the bench where former Sharks and Southern Kings lock Steven Sykes enters the matchday-23.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers were victorious in 3 terrific Vodacom Super Rugby matches, as the competition really took off in the 3rd Round.

On Friday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs sneaked home against the Blues in Bloemfontein, winning their 2nd match of the season by 25 / 24 to remain 1 of only 4 unbeaten teams in 2015.

Saturday saw 2 local derbies of the highest calibre, with Test-like intensity. Mirrroing the encounter in Bloemfontein, the results of both these matches were in the balance right until the end.

The Vodacom Bulls prodcued their maiden win of the season when they beat the Cell C Sharks by 43 / 35 in a superb match in Pretoria. Then the DHL Stormers clocked their 3rd win from 3 matches when they beat the Emirates Lions by 22 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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Os du Randt

Os du Randt

Japanese club Toyota Verblitz is believed to be after the services Cheetahs forwards coach Os du Randt.

According to reports, there’s already been informal talks between the club and Du Randt but no contract has been discussed.

New Zealander Filo Tiatia coached Toyota Verblitz this past season, while Springbok and Sharks flank Jean Deysel also plays for them.

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Naka Drotske

Naka Drotske

The Cheetahs’ team doctor has a special plan to help the team overcome jet lag on their upcoming Australasian Super Rugby tour.

The men from Bloemfontein start their tour with a clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch on 21 March, before facing the Chiefs (Hamilton 28 March), Brumbies (Canberra 4 April) and Force (11 April).

Dr Louis Holtzhausen said the fact that the Cheetahs’ first game is in Christchurch makes things extra difficult.

“It’s the furthest that you can travel and the most difficult away game to start with,” he said.

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Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Cheetahs lock Lood de Jager will be sidelined for at least 3 months after undergoing an operation to repair injured elbow ligaments.

De Jager left the field in the 1st half of the Cheetahs’ 35 / 29 Super Rugby win against the Sharks at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban last Saturday.

It was feared that he had broken his elbow, but X-rays revealed only ligament damage.

But the Springbok was still forced to go under the knife on Tuesday.

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Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

The Toyota Cheetahs were dealt a big blow when it was learnt that Springbok lock Lood de Jager will be out of action for between 6 and 8 weeks with an elbow injury.

De Jager was forced off the field in the Cheetahs win over the Cell C Sharks early on in Durban on Saturday and while the good news is that there isn’t a bone fracture, the injury will mean he will miss close to 2 months of Vodacom Super Rugby action.

The injury has been tempered by the fact the Cheetahs have a bye this week, with all players being given most of the week off until they reassemble on Thursday to start preparing for next weekend’s game against the Blues in Bloemfontein.

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Tendai 'Beast Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast Mtawarira

Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

We are just 1 week into the Super Rugby season and there is already a lengthy list of Springboks sidelined by injury.

With captain Jean de Villiers a non-starter thanks to a knee injury which has put a question mark over his availability for the World Cup, he has been joined by Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lodewyk de Jager amd Julian Redelinghuys.

Etzebeth hurt his chest in a warm-up game against the Cheetahs at Newlands, and is only expected back in the 3rd round – the 3rd consecutive year he has missed the start of the competition.

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Joe Pietersen

Joe Pietersen

The Toyota Cheetahs have named former Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen at flyhalf for their Super Rugby Round 1 clash with the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Pietersen is an unknown entity at flyhalf having spent most of his time running from the back for the Stormers and for French club Biarritz, where he made 17 appearances.

In the front row, Springbok Coenie Oosthuizen packs down at tighthead alongside Currie Cup captain and Namibian international Torsten van Jaarsveld.

Former Sharks prop Danie Minnie solidifies the front line of the scrum.

At lock there is room for another Springbok in Lodewyk de Jager who pairs up with new captain Francois Uys.

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Steven Sykes

Steven Sykes

Former Sharks lock Steven Sykes has joined the Cheetahs squad as they prepare for the Super Rugby competition.

According to reports, it remains unsure if Sykes has signed a contract with the Cheetahs or just training in Bloemfontein on a trial period.

Sykes will compete for a spot in the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby team with the likes of Lood de Jager, Francois Uys, Carl Wegner and Armandt Koster.

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Francois Uys

Francois Uys

The Cheetahs, in a surprise move, named Francois Uys as their captain for the Super Rugby season.

Uys will be leading the team, joined by the vice-captain Sarel Pretorius.

The ‘well-informed’ media in Bloemfontein have been speculating for weeks that Japan-based Springbok Heinrich Brüssow would get the leadership armband.

However, coach Naka Drotské decided to go with Uys – starting from Saturday, when they take on the South African conference champions, the Cell C Sharks, in Durban.

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