When Keith Lowen signed for the Cheetahs last year he never expected to make his Vodacom Super 14 debut in round eight of the competition.
The former All Black centre was a shoo-in for the Cheetahs first match against the Bulls in early February when he aggravated a muscle strain playing squash. That opened the door for South African U21 star Ronnie Cooke, who has since become the side’s first- choice No 13.
Lowen played himself back to full fitness with Free State in the Vodacom Cup, before finally making his Cheetahs debut against the Waratahs at inside centre last Friday.
“It was quite exciting playing for a different team,” he told keo.co.za. “Missing out on so much of the Super 14 was disappointing, but being injured is part of rugby and you’ve just got to accept it. I regained my fitness in the Vodacom Cup, and was pretty pleased with my performance against the Waratahs.”
While Lowen aims to start as many Super 14 matches as possible after his lengthy lay-off, there’s one fixture he really wants to be involved in – against his former Chiefs team-mates in Hamilton on 21 April.
The 31-year-old made 55 appearances for the Chiefs in the Super 12 and is expecting a ‘ringing’ welcome from the cow-bell crowd.
“I should get quite a few SMSes from my mates in Hamilton over the next couple of weeks, although they’ve been SMSing me ever since I signed for the Cheetahs. I don’t know how the crowd will react. Carisbrook gave Tony Brown a hard time when he played for the Sharks, hopefully it won’t be like that. As for the players … well, I’m sure they will have something to say to me if I do play!”
While Hickville sits in the back of Lowen’s mind, his immediate focus is on the Brumbies and in their in-form captain Stirling Mortlock.
“I’ve played against Stirling quite a few times before, and really rate him,” said Lowen. “He was wise not to tour with the Wallabies in November and give his body a rest. He has a good approach to the game and has strung together a number of good performances. We know we’ll have to keep an eye on him this weekend.”
By Simon Borchardt