Cheetahs captain in race against time

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 10:06
Large francois venter cheetahs2 800

INJURY UPDATE: Regular Cheetahs captain Francois Venter is in a race against time to return before that start of the season.

Venter, who first injured his ankle during the Currie Cup season and aggravated it on the South Africa's year-end tour, underwent surgery in December.

He was expected to be sidelined for three months, which meant he would have missed the Currie Cup champions' first few Super Rugby games.

However, Cheetahs coach Franco Smith told rugby365 that will be sidelined for another three to four weeks - making his return much sooner than anticipated.

It is unlikely, but possible, that his rapid recovered could see him being available for their opening match of the season - against the Lions in Bloemfontein on February 25.

The only other significant issue is an illness currently preventing lock Carl Wegner from training.

However, the coach said he should be fine by the end of the week.

"We have some minor niggles, but nothing serious," Smith said.

The team returned to training this week, after the Christmas break, and the coach said pre-season is going very well.

"We have a specific plan," he told rugby365, adding: "[It is] a combination of fitness and contact, but very match specific."

The Cheetahs have a mostly settled squad, with not too many significant departures - Bok lock Lodewyk de Jager's decision to join the Bulls probably the big news.

Other regulars who will not be available this season include prop Nicolaas van Dyk (to Toulouse), hooker Neil Rautenbach (to Stormers), loose forward Willie Britz (to Sunwolves), flyhalf Sias Ebersohn (to Pumas) and fullback Coenie van Wyk (to Toshiba Brave Lupus).

Noteworthy new recruits include prop Tom Botha (from Kings), loose forward Junior Pokomela (from Kings), flyhalf  Ryno Eksteen (from Stormers) and centre Lihleli Xoli (from Ikey Tigers).

The Cheetahs will play just two pre-season matches - against the Stormers in Harare (January 28) and Sharks in Durban (February 3).

By Jan de Koning'
@king365
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 February 2017
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
Fri, 03 March 2017
Chiefs v Blues 06h35 Hamilton
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 24 February 2017
Reds v Sharks 28 | 26
Highlanders v Chiefs 15 | 24
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
UWC v Rhodes 88 | 8
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
TUT v WSU 13 | 17
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 20 | 15
Sun, 19 February 2017
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 46 | 31
Sale Sharks v Wasps 34 | 28
Sat, 18 February 2017
Connacht v Dragons 14 | 9
Ospreys v Munster 23 | 25
Leicester Tigers v Bristol 50 | 17
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Reds 1 1 0 0 4
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 1 0 0 1 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Blues 1 1 0 0 5
Chiefs 1 1 0 0 5
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 1 0 0 1 0
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Cheetahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 0 0 0 0 0
Kings 0 0 0 0 0