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Cheetahs in the dark over Goosen

Wed, 14 May 2014 14:15
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Fourie gets early release
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The Cheetahs remain in the dark over the future of Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen, amidst escalating rumours that he is to depart from the Cheetahs.

The most recent dispatches from the Bloemfontein media suggest Goosen will make an announcement in the "next few days" - having been linked to French clubs Racing Metro and Toulon, as well as the Stormers.

However, Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie told rugby365 that they have not heard anything from the player or his agent.

"I have also seen the reports that he will make a call in the next few days, but more than that I don't know," Fourie told this website.

"We are also still waiting to hear what his decision is," he added.

Goosen's contract with the Cheetahs expire in October, at the conclusion of the Currie Cup season, and his agent has been in discussion with the Springbok and Cheetahs management over his future.

The 21-year-old flyhalf, who played all four his Tests in 2012 before injuries curtailed his career, visited France during the Cheetahs' bye round in March - where he held discussions with both Racing and Toulon.

His decision, whether to stay in SA (where the Cheetahs and Stormers are his options) or move to France (Racing or Toulon), will depend on what comes out of the discussions with the national team management and whether he still features in the plans of Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

The past two years a succession of should and knee injuries have reduced his playing time and his form this year has been patchy at best.

The Cheetahs have been dealt another blow, with the Bloemfontein-based Volksblad reporting Riaan Smit is also heading to France at the end of the season.

If Goosen departs, it will leave Elgar Watts as their only flyhalf option going forward.

According to the newspaper they have targeted Western Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn to return to Bloemfontein as Goosen’s replacement. However, Ebersohn is apparently reluctant to make a commitment just yet, as he is looking to extend his stay in Perth - where he has been very happy since his acrimonious departure from Bloemfontein 18 months ago.

* Meanwhile it was also confirmed that the Cheetahs have agreed to release their backline coach, Fourie, to Griquas before the end of the Super Rugby season.

Retired Springbok Franco Smith, who recently returned to South African after seven seasons as Benetton Treviso coach in Italy, started helping out at Cheetahs training sessions this week.

Smith will formally take over as backline coach when Fourie departs after the Cheetahs' Round 15 Super Rugby encounter with the Stormers in Cape Town later this month.

The reason for Fourie's early departure is so that he can start working with Griquas ahead of their Currie Cup qualifying competition that gets underway early in June.

The Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Western Province, Free State Cheetahs and defending champion Sharks will be joined by the Pumas - who won promotion by beating Griquas last year - and the EP Kings, who were given an armchair ride into the competition.

Griquas, who will play the Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup Final on Saturday, will go up against six other teams for the right to play in the top flight.

The other teams in the qualifying competition are the Leopards, SWD Eagles, Griffons, Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs and Falcons.

Fourie was appointed head coach of Griquas' Currie Cup team, but must now first guide them into the top tier, hence his early departure from the Super Rugby franchise.

The argument is that Griquas, as a vital partner and feeder union for the Cheetahs' Super Rugby team, must play in the Currie Cup competition to ensure their players compete at a high standard against top teams - as opposed to running around with the minnows in the suboptimal First Division.

By Jan de Koning

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