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

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10