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Toyota Free State Cheetahs

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Kobus van Wyk

WP flyer, Kobus van Wyk

Surprise, surprise… there are the Sharks and Western Province, back dominating Currie Cup rugby.

Many changes could still happen, of course, given that the 2014 competition is not quite a third of the way through the pre-knockout phase, but it is interesting nevertheless that the two coastal powers have already seized just a hint of a grip.

It will only increase speculation that the pair may be set for a third successive meeting in the final this year, something that has not happened since the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs met in each of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 showpieces.

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Cell C SharksA long-range penalty by Fred Zeilinga four minutes from time helped the Sharks snatch a last-ditch 19-16 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup clash at Kings Park on Saturday night.

The home flyhalf kicked 14 points in total, with the other five coming through a late try by Tonderai Chavhanga.

However, the visitors will rue what might have been after leading the game for most of the evening thanks to a brilliant Clayton Blommetjies’ try and the boot of Willie du Plessis.

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Juan Smith

Juan Smith

The boyish smile on the face of Juan Hugo Smith masked the trauma that he endured in the past four years, when it seemed an Achilles injury ended his career.

At 33, with 69 Test caps for South Africa, he is one of the most seasoned players in the Springbok team to face Argentina in Salta on Saturday.

Captain Jean de Villiers, also 33 and 97 Tests, and recalled prop Gurthrö Steenkamp, 33 and 51 Tests, are among the few that can match him for experience in the team that will take to the field at Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena.

Smith is the epitome of a player who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to return to the international arena, after it seemed his career had come to an abrupt end.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks team to take on Free State at Kings Park in their Round 3 Absa Currie Cup clash on Saturday shows some changes to the pack that featured against the Pumas last week.

According to Sharks website Editor, Michael Marnewick, the backline remains completely unchanged, but among the forwards, there have been some changes, both enforced and rotational.

JC Astle has not been passed fit which means Etienne Oosthuizen reverts back to lock, opening the door for Francois Kleinhans who starts on the flank.

Upfront, Matt Steven starts ahead of Lourens Adriaanse and Dale Chadwick plays at loosehead in place of Thomas du Toit.

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EP KingsIn a bid to add more grunt up front, the EP Kings coach Carlos Spencer has made four changes to the pack for Saturday’s Currie Cup match against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.

“We have brought back players like Steven Sykes and Darron Nell to add some physicality up front – which is something we lacked against the Lions and really need against this Bulls outfit,” Spencer said on Wednesday.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks had to revert to what they know, as the forwards rumbled them to victory in the second half of their opening home Absa Currie Cup game against the Steval Pumas, but the coaches appear to be taking the glass half full view to their start to the season.

According to reports, with the big battering rams that dictated a forward based approach during the Super Rugby season now either injured, with the Springboks or departed for Japan, the young Sharks coaches who have taken over for the domestic competition have spoken about the need to play to different strengths.

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Currie CupThis past weekend saw Round 2 of the ABSA Currie Cup of 2014.

As usual 4 games were played, with the Cell C Sharks beating Steal Pumas 34 / 17, DHL Western Province demolishing the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 41 / 17, Xerox Goldenlions hammering EP Kings by 60 / 19 and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs beating GWK Griquas 34 / 27.

 

WP demolish Blue Bulls

DHL Western Province scored three tries either side of halftime as they demolished the Vodacom Blue Bulls 41-17 (halftime 19-6) in a scintillating Absa Currie Cup encounter at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Province ran in six tries through Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Juan de Jongh and a brace from Seabelo Senatla while replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi nabbed one for the visitors.

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CheetahsIs there something brewing in the corridors of the Free State Rugby Union?

Remember that one of the reasons Adriaan Strauss gave for taking the offer at the Bulls was due to the fact that he and the board of the Free State Rugby could not come to an agreement regarding an independent audit.

According to Volksblad, the breakdown in negotiations is said to have surrounded a clause involving an independent investigation into Cheetahs rugby.

While Strauss had advocated that a fresh perspective was required to move the team forward, the move was refused by the Cheetahs.

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Jimmy Stonehouse

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has praised his team’s intensity in their surprise 28-21 victory over the Free State Cheetahs at the Mbombela Stadium after a long time out of the Currie Cup Premier Division.

The Pumas were playing their first game in the top flight since 2011, but they out-scored the Cheetahs by three tries to two and were worthy winners on the opening weekend of Currie Cup action.

“It was our first game up in the Premier Division and the players were obviously a bit tense, but the intensity was brilliant and the guys refused to lay down,” Stonehouse said.

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SuperBruTonight sees the kick off of the 2014 edition of the ABSA Currie Cup, and more importantly, the start of a new SuperBru campaign.

Just a week ago the pool for the Super Rugby ended, and it turned out to be quite a dog fight at the top of the table between Blue Bird, Sharks_Forever, Charo and Winston Champ, with Blue Bird hanging on to take the bragging rights.

For those of us who were fighting it out down at the bottom of the log, don’t despair, today we all start with a clean slate.

Good luck with those picks, and if you are still deliberating, have a look at what some of the pundits and so-called experts have decided.

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Toyota Free State Cheetahs coaching staff

The brains trust of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs for the Currie Cup.

Coenie and Caylib Oosthuizen will play no part in the Free State Cheetahs’ Currie Cup match against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Saturday.

With Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss involved with the Springboks, and both Oosthuizens ruled out through injury, new coach Rory Duncan has been forced to field a new-look front row against the Pumas.

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Caylib Oosthuizen

Caylib Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie and Caylib Oosthuizen will not be available for the Cheetahs’ first Currie Cup match against the Pumas on Saturday in Nelspruit.

More scrum worries come in the form of Johannes Roux, who injured his arm against the EP Kings in a a warm match last Friday – he sat out of training on Monday.

It is hoped that Roux will be fit to play on Saturday, with the Free Staters looking thin in the front row.

With both Oosthuizens out and Trevor Nyakane with the Springboks, coach Rory Duncan looks set to blood some youngsters.

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Toyota Free State CheetahsTHE Eastern Province Kings lost their final warm up friendly to the Free State Cheetahs, losing 12 (5) points to the Cheetahs 28 (7) at the Cradock Sports Fields this afternoon.

The Kings took to the field with a much changed team from their game against the SWD Eagles that won in George two weeks ago by 78 points to 32, and were let down a bit by two late tries by the Cheetahs in the second half.

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Kick-off for 2014′s Currie Cup is almost upon us with a full set of fixtures scheduled for 9 August.

Sportingbet have come to the party by pricing up a market for the overall winner of this tournament.

With that in mind, here’s our take on who has a major shot at the trophy and which sides may struggle to keep up with the pace.

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Henry Immelman from Grey College, in action against Affies.

Henry Immelman from Grey College, in action against Affies.

A schoolboy teenager is set to play in the 2014 Currie Cup – Henry Immelman, the Grey College fullback.

Thomas du Toit, who was at Paarl Boys’ High last year, has proved that a teenager can stand firm among the tough, gnarled men of the front row.

Frans Steyn was 19 when he was chosen for the Sharks and then for South Africa. That was 2007, the year he turned 20. Johan Goosen was 18 when first he played for the Cheetahs in 2011, the year he turned 19.

Now Henry Immelman has been chosen in the Free State squad to play in the Currie Cup. He turned 19 in May. Unlike Steyn and Goosen he is still at school – in matric at Grey College, the school that Steyn and Goosen attended. Like the other two he played for Free State at Craven Week. Goosen made SA schools; Steyn and Immelman did not. Steyn and Goosen were born east of Bloemfontein – in Aliwal North and Burgersdorp. Immelman was born, on 26 May 1995, in Upington.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss has broken his silence, saying he is excited at the prospect of moving to the Bulls at the end of the season.

The Bulls officially announced the move on Monday, but Strauss revealed exclusively to the supersport.com website that his decision was taken to further his career.

Strauss signed a two-year contract to move to the Bulls, following fellow Cheetahs players Trevor Nyakane and Lappies Labuschagné who will also line up for the Pretoria franchise in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

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Rossouw de KlerkGlasgow Warriors have signed South African prop Rossouw de Klerk from the Cheetahs, subject to a visa and medical.

The 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at Scotstoun and will join up with Gregor Townsend’s squad for pre-season training at the end of the month.

The 1.85m tighthead began his senior career in Pretoria, making his debut for the Blue Bulls in 2009. He went on to make 41 appearances for them, 14 of which were in Super Rugby.

In 2013 de Klerk joined the Cheetahs and has made 14 appearances in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup and has played seven times in Super Rugby this season.

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Free State CheetahsFree State Cheetahs new KitPUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, has unveiled a new heritage-inspired Currie Cup rugby kit in the customary white and russet orange.

“As always the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are looking forward to the Currie Cup competition and this year even more so with our new Currie Cup jersey design from our partner PUMA,” said Kobus le Roux, the Marketing & Sales Executive at the Free State Cheetahs. “PUMA has yet again been able to design a new fresh look for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs without changing our unique traditions. Proudly white and orange! Proudly Cheetahs! Proudly PUMA.”

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Vincent Jobo

Vincent “The Animal” Jobo

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have picked up promising former Western Province Under 21 and UCT loose forward, Vincent Jobo, for their Absa Currie Cup campaign and a good showing may even lead to a Vodacom Super Rugby stint for the player nicknamed “The Animal.”

Jobo had an impressive Varsity Cup last year and is one of the rising stars of Cape Rugby. The decision to move to Bloemfontein for the Currie Cup is an excellent one for him as the former King Edward VII schoolboy has fought his way through the ranks and is now being rewarded for his form.

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Torsten van Jaarsveld

Torsten van Jaarsveld has been named as captain of the Free State Cheetahs for the Currie Cup

Torsten van Jaarsveld has been named Free State Cheetahs captain for the upcoming Currie Cup season, the union announced via a press statement on Monday.

The 27-year-old, who can play flank and hooker, will replace Boom Prinsloo who captained the team during last year’s Currie Cup.

With Super Rugby captain Adriaan Strauss expected to be on duty for the Springboks, the Cheetahs have decided to appoint a different captain for the Currie Cup.

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Johann Sadie

Johann Sadie

The Cheetahs were hit by another massive blow when they lost their ninth player of the season, with midfielder Johann Sadie heading to Japan to join the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Sadie will make the move to the Japanese club, which also has South Africans Heinrich Brüssow and Riaan Viljoen on their books, after again missing on the Springbok training squad.

The Cheetahs midfielder has had a good season despite his team’s poor form in this year’s competition and will definitely be able to use his attacking skills in the pacy Japanese league.

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Johannes 'Boom' Prinsloo

Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo

Die Cheetahs agsteman, Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo, het sy betrokkenheid met die Bloemfontein-gebasseerde eenheid verleng tot aan die einde van 2015.

Die 25-jarige wat ‘n uitnemende en vooraanstaande verhouding en geskiedenis met die SA Sewes Blitzbokke gehad het, het gesê hy is gelukkig by die Cheetahs en sien geen rede om daaraan te verander nie.

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Philip van der Walt

Philip van der Walt

The Cheetahs have announced that eighthman Philip van der Walt will leave the Bloemfontein Super Rugby franchise in order to play in France.

The Free-state franchise have released Van der Walt from his contract so that he can join French club Biarritz.

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Rory Duncan

Rory Duncan

Naka Drotské

Naka Drotské

The Free State Cheetahs will tackle this year’s Currie Cup competition under a new head coach, the Free State Rugby Union said on Thursday.

Super Rugby coach Naka Drotské hands over the reins for the coming domestic competition to the coach of this year’s Free State Vodacom Cup side, Rory Duncan.

Drotské, who would be heading off to the UK to expand his coaching knowledge abroad, remained the head coach for the Cheetahs Super Rugby campaign next year. Griquas coach Hawies Fourie and former Springbok prop Os du Randt would be his assistants for the 2015 competition.

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Trevor NyakaneThe Vodacom Bulls may well add Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane to their ranks as their next acquisition when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Nyakane, who became a Springbok last season but was dropped because of disciplinary issues, is known to be on the target list of the Bulls as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2015 season.

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Vodacom CupThe Steval Pumas, Cell C Sharks XV, GWK Griquas and Toyota Free State XV will host the four Vodacom Cup quarter-finals after the pool phase of the competition came to an exciting conclusion this weekend.

It was an exciting end to the competition in 2014, with a total of 75 tries scored in the eight pool matches at an average of just over nine per match, or one try every eight or so minutes.

While the North Section went pretty much as expected and the Steval Pumas managed the become the only team to go through their pool matches unbeaten, the last round in the South Section saw the log getting a proper overhaul following upsets in Durban and George on Friday evening.

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