Two centres out; Mapimpi heading to Durban

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 09:38

INJURY UPDATE: The Cheetahs were dealt a triple blow, as they stepped up preparations for the back-to-back Pro14 encounters with the Southern Kings.

The two South African teams meet in Port Elizabeth this Saturday and Bloemfontein a week later.

The matches - catch-up fixtures from December - will take place while the Pro14 is on a two-week break, during which the final two rounds of the European Champions Cup takes place.

It has been revealed that centre William Small-Smith has been ruled out for three months, after tearing the MCL in his knee in the loss to Benetton last week.

Captain Francois Venter, who took a blow to the neck in Italy last week, will also not make the trip to Port Elizabeth.

The third setback came in the form of confirmation that Makazole Mapimpi will depart Bloemfontein after the second encounter with the Kings.

He will be joining up with the Sharks, who announced his signing in November.

However, the last few weeks were accompanied by rumours that the Cheetahs may have convinced him to stay.

Mapimpi told the local media that he is definitely heading to Durban after the January 20 encounter with the Kings in Bloemfontein.

The loss of Small-Smith is probably the most significant.

He sustained the injury when he collided with his captain, Venter, during the team's 21-27 loss to Benetton in Treviso last week.

"I tore my MCL [Medial Collateral Ligament] in my knee,"Small-Smith told Morgan Piek of OFM Sport.

"That is going to keep me on the sidelines for three months.

"It happened when Swys [Francois Venter] and I collided while making a tackle.

"It's not great news, but I'm happy that my ACL [Anterior Cruciate Ligament] is intact. That could have seen me out for nine months."

Venter's injury is not as serious as that of his fellow midfielder, Small-Smith.

While he will not be making the trip to Port Elizabeth, he is expected to be back for the return fixture.

This could mean that the flyhalf, Niel Marais, will run out at inside centre this weekend alongside Nico Lee.

Marais has previously played at centre for the Cheetahs.

Should Clinton Swart, who is equally comfortable at centre or flyhalf have recovered from his illness, he may well be on the bench as cover in both positions.

Alternatively, the coach Rory Duncan may also opt to play Ernst Stapelberg off the bench.

Loose forward Henco Venter has recovered from concussion and is available for selection this week.

Should Venter make the trip to the Eastern Cape it will be a welcome addition to the side.

Torsten van Jaarsveld will captain the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth in the absence of Venter.

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