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

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9