Goosen to start against Sharks
Goosen to start against SharksSHARE
The Cheetahs received a double boost ahead of their Super Rugby season-opener against the Sharks, with two Springboks returning to the team.
Bok flyhalf Johan Goosen has passed a fitness test and has been named to start at flyhalf in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The 20-year-old flyhalf, capped four times for his country last year, has made a satisfactory recovery from shoulder surgery and a foot complaint and his return sets up a delectable head-to-head between two talented young pivots – Goosen and Patrick Lambie.
The other Bok returning is prop Coenie Oosthuizen, back after his back and neck injuries last year.
However, he will only play off the bench as the Cheetahs coaching staff ease him back.
Both trained with the team on Monday and again worked out with their Cheetahs teammates on Tuesday, before a final call was made on their availability for Saturday.
Goosen, who left his mark on the Super Rugby scene last year before he suffered a serious shoulder injury against the Highlanders, also struggled with a heel injury.
However, his biggest setback was the knee injury, which required surgery, which he suffered in the Test against the All Blacks in Soweto.
In the pre-season the heel against became tender and inflamed, but has now responded to treatment.
"It is good to have Johan back in the thick of things," Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said on Wednesday.
"He is one of our star players and looked very good during practice. We look forward to a good performance from him against the Sharks."Oosthuizen, who suffered a succession of neck and back injuries last year, has been steadily working his way back to full fitness.
Drotské confirmed Oosthuizen will get some game time on Saturday.
"He definitely will get some time on the field and as a ball carrier he will be crucial to our campaign," Drotské said.
The team will be captained by Springbok vice-captain Adriaan Strauss and will also feature new recruit Johann Sadie – signed from the Bulls last year.
Drotské selected a side that combined power among the forwards with flair in the backline.
The Cheetahs had lost stalwarts Andries Strauss to the Kings and Sias Ebersohn to the Force, but their backline was all but lacking in pace.
Griquas fullback Willie le Roux was selected on wing, partnering with another exciting prospect in Raymond Rhule.
Loose forward Frans Viljoen earned a start in the flank position after impressive performances in the warm-up matches against the Stormers and Bulls.
He would be one of the go-to guys for the Cheetahs looking for quality first-phase possession.
"Frans brings that physical factor that we need and he will form a good combination with Lappies Labuschagne and Philip van der Walt," Drotské said.
"We are playing our first game at home and it will be a huge boost if we can come away with the win."
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Date: Saturday, February 23
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Tiaan Jonker (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)