Double blow for Cheetahs

Adriaan Strauss is out for the remainder of the Super 14 while WP Nel will miss the Cheetahs’ clash against the Blues.

Springbok hooker Strauss suffered cartilage damage in his shoulder during the Cheetahs’ Australasian tour and will have to undergo surgery. He will be sidelined for at least three months. Tighthead prop Nel will be absent for this weekend’s match with a foot sprain.

Captain Juan Smith said Strauss and Nel are big losses but the team will have to look at the positives.

‘Injuries have been a big problem for us this season and losing Adriaan and WP are big blows. It’s not easy losing key players, especially a tighthead prop,’ Smith told keo.co.za. ‘But we have to look forward. We have [loose forward] Frans Viljoen back from injury and his physical presence will have a big impact against the Blues.

‘The returns of [lock] Waltie Vermeulen and [No 8] Ashley Johnson are also boosts for us.’

Ryno Barnes, who started in the 25-25 draw against the Chiefs last Friday, is set to start at hooker while Kobus Calldo is likely to fill in at tighthead. Loosehead prop Coenie Oosthuizen will also be an option at tighthead as he played there in the latter part of the 2009 Currie Cup when Nel was injured then.

‘Ryno put his hand up last weekend and showed us he that he is determined to play. Kobus was with us for the four-week tour, but missed all the games. I’m sure he is determined to make an impact if he gets a start,’ said Smith.

By Gareth Duncan