VIDEO: The unwanted 'record' the Cheetahs set'
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie is scrambling to find enough fit loose forwards, after his side set an unwanted ‘record’ in Bloemfontein at the weekend – playing with three hookers on the field at the same time.
The Cheetahs opened their Challenge Series campaign with a 17-14 win over the Bulls in a scrappy affair this past Friday.
The encounter, part of the Cheetahs’ preparations for their entry into the European Challenge Cup in December, was the epitome of a ‘pre-season’ outing.
However, of bigger concern is the growing injury crisis in the loose forward ranks.
The Cheetahs are sweating over the shoulder injury suffered by flank Roelof Smit, who will undergo scans to determine the extent of the problem.
“It is a pity, because we don’t have a lot of [fit] loose forward in our squad,” Fourie told @rugby365com.
In the closing stages of the game the Cheetahs had three hookers on the field – Louis van der Westhuizen (the starting No.2), Marko Janse van Rensburg (who came off the bench) and Marnus van der Merwe (who doubled as a loose forward off the bench).
“It must be some kind of record,” he said of the injury crisis that forced the Cheetahs to field three hookers.
Loose forwards who missed the weekend’s outing through injury include Gideon van der Merwe (knee), Andisa Ntsila (knee), Teboho Mohoje (lower back) and George Cronje (knee).
“We had to use three hookers, because we had no other [fit] loose forwards,” the coach said.
The good news is that Sibabalo Qoma, a lock who can double as a loose forward, and Mohoje are expected to return to training this week – ahead of the Cheetahs’ Challenge Cup encounter with Emerging Ireland on Sunday, October 9.
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Fourie admitted it was not a pretty start in their build-up to their debut in the European Challenge Cup in December.
He was happy that the team stayed “calm under pressure” and managed to secure a win against a strong Bulls team that featured quality players like Wandisile Simelane, Morné Steyn, Jacques van Rooyen, Bismarck du Plessis and Dylan Smith in the starting XV.
“We know we will have to make a huge step up if we want to be competitive against the Irish team on Sunday.”
He reiterated that the four Challenge Series games in Bloemfontein are their only competitive outings in preparation for the demands of the European competition against teams that would have had eight to 10 games by December.
“It is a tough ask, but we have an entry into Europe and it is important for the Cheetahs and our brand to be able to play in an international competition again.”
Captain Victor Sekekete said they will need to improve their discipline ahead of their entry into Europe.
#⃣MATCH REPORT: The @CheetahsRugby opened their #ChallengeSeries campaign with a 17-14 win over the @BlueBullsRugby in a scrappy affair in #Bloemfontein on #Friday #Rugby 🏉#RugbyUnion🌍
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) September 30, 2022