CJ’s return won’t benefit Cheetahs

CJ van der Linde is the Cheetahs’ major signing heading into the Currie Cup, but his opportunities will be limited.

The Cheetahs suffered the loss of seven-season veteran Wian du Preez when he signed a two-year deal with Munster after the Super 14. Their front row ranks were seemingly boosted with the signing of Leinster and Springbok prop Van der Linde on a six-month deal.

However, it seems Van der Linde’s signing will benefit the player more than the team. Being based in Bloemfontein, Van der Linde is now eligible for Bok selection and is set to be part of the national squad this year. This means his Bok commitments will see him missing most of the Cheetahs’ Currie Cup campaign. Van der Linde is also set to join the Stormers next season.

Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie doubts Van der Linde’s arrival will have any impact this year.

‘It’s great to have CJ back but we will only be able to use him if we make the semi-finals and final of the Currie Cup. His opportunities will be limited,’ Fourie told keo.co.za.

With Du Preez out and Van der Linde in the Boks’ mix, Coenie Oosthuizen will be elevated to first choice prop. Fourie believes the 21-year-old will succeed.

‘Wian is a big loss for us because he hardly got injured. But in the Super 14, Wian played 55% of the season and Coenie the other 45%. So he has received the necessary game time and experience to perform well as a first-choice loosehead.’

Meanwhile, wing Danwel Demas is off to Europe. Demas has signed for Italian club Viadana and the Cheetahs will look to sign another wing for the Currie Cup by next week.

Fourie also confirmed the Cheetahs aren’t expecting to lose any more players this year, pending the court battle with the Sharks over wing Lionel Mapoe, and are continuing to negotiate contract extensions with senior players.

However, centre Meyer Bosman has been linked with a transfer to the Sharks after his contract expires this October. The Ebersohn twins, centre Robert and flyhalf Sias, will decide on their futures later this year and could also defect to Durban.

By Gareth Duncan