Cheetahs face midfield conundrum

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 07:43
Large francois venter cheetahs media 800

INJURY UPDATE: Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan has a tricky midfield poser to solve ahead of their back-to-back Pro14 encounters with the Southern Kings.

The Kings host the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth this Saturday and the return match is in Bloemfontein a week later.

Two key players - captain Francois Venter and utility back William Small-Smith are struggling with injuries suffered in the 21-27 loss to Benetton at the weekend.

Venter, who returned to the Cheetahs midfield in Treviso last week after featuring with the Springboks on the end-of-year tour in November, took a blow to the neck in the loss to the Italian franchise.

Duncan told rugby365 that it is "not too serious", but he is still likely to miss this week's trip to Port Elizabeth.

"We are hoping it [his injury-enforced lay-off] will only be a week, or less than a week," the coach said.

Small-Smith, who started on right wing against Benetton, left the field with a knee injury.

He will undergo a scan in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, but he could be sidelined for a while.

Nico Lee, who started alongside Venter in the midfield in Italy at the weekend, is likely to have a new centre partner.

Small-Smith and Nico Lee were the most regular centre pairing before when Venter was unavailable.

Tertius Kruger and Ali Mgijima are the other midfielders who have had a run in the Pro14 and either could get a look-in.

Craig Barry, who moved to fullback in place of Clayton Blommetjies (who has been side-lined due to a cold), will most likely return to the wing in the spot vacated by Small-Smith's absence.

A fit-again Blommetjies looks set to return at fullback.

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 14h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
Dragons v Scarlets 14h05 Rodney Parade
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Treviso v Zebre 16h00 Stadio Monigo
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
PRO14
MORE LOGS
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Glasgow Warriors 20 15 1 4 75
Munster 20 13 0 7 67
Cheetahs 20 11 0 9 58
Cardiff Blues 20 11 0 9 53
Ospreys 20 8 0 12 40
Connacht 20 6 0 14 34
Zebre 20 6 0 14 32
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 20 14 1 5 70
Scarlets 20 13 1 6 65
Edinburgh 20 14 0 6 64
Ulster 20 12 1 7 60
Treviso 20 11 0 9 54
Dragons 20 2 2 16 20
Kings 20 1 0 19 11