Cheetahs keep their champions for two more years
REACTION: Free State Cheetahs Director of Rugby Rory Duncan said the bulk of Currie Cup winning squad have been signed up until 2018.
An elated Duncan who was appointed to the post last year said the franchise's retention plan ensured that all the players, bar one, will be available for Super Rugby over the next two seasons.
"Every single one of the players, that played in the [Currie Cup] Final, except for one, is staying with us next year," Duncan said.
"We've retained all our players after losing just two players this season," said Duncan, who spent most of playing career in the Free State and Eastern Cape, playing for the Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams.
He did not elaborate on which player is unavailable.
"We are very excited about our retention plan and being able to hang on to the guys. In fact, almost 30 of them have already signed up to 2018."
Duncan knows the feeling associated with winning the Currie Cup.
Back in 2007, he led the Cheetahs to victory in the final against the Golden Lions in Bloemfontein.
The Cheetahs match day squad that day included Marius Joubert, Willem de Waal, Duane Vermeulen, Richardt Strauss (now Ireland), Jannie du Plessis, Heinrich Brüssow, Lucas Floors and Meyer Bosman.
Over 40 000 spectators also attended the 2007 Final in Bloemfontein and Duncan said it raised a mixture of emotions as he absorbed the mood in the stadium before and after the final whistle.
"It was absolutely fantastic. I came out here before the game and saw the crowd and it raised all sorts of emotions," said Duncan.
"Those feelings just came rushing back to me again after the final whistle. I couldn't ask for a better feeling.
"The whole of Bloemfontein come together [this past Saturday]. In fact, the whole Free State province came to stand behind the team.
"It is something the coaches, the players deserve. You can't help but get excited about it.
"This is how we want to play in the years to come and I have to commend [coach] Franco Smith and the team.
"In the first half, we didn't convert when we opened up a lot of space because we didn't have the necessary finish,
"But the guys stuck to the game plan and when eventually space did open up we finished well in the second half."
The Cheetahs play their first three 2017 Super Rugby matches at home against the Lions, Bulls and Sunwolves - starting on Saturday, February 25.