Coenie set for tighthead return

Coenie Oosthuizen is set to make his comeback from injury for the Free State Cheetahs next weekend as a tighthead prop.

Oosthuizen suffered a serious neck injury during the Springboks’ June Test series against England and has been out of action ever since. However, the front-rower has rejoined his Free State team-mates at training this week and is expected to get a run-on against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria next Saturday.

And he’s set to feature at tighthead prop, instead of loosehead.

The 23-year-old has been preferred in the No 1 jersey since making his senior debut in 2008, and only packed down on the other side of the scrum occasionally. But Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer made a request to Cheetahs boss Naka Drotske earlier this year to give the player a run at tighthead, because of the lack of depth in that position in the national ranks.

Oosthuizen confirmed that he’ll begin the planned transition at Loftus Versfeld.

‘I’m back at training and should be back in the team next week,’ Oosthuizen told keo.co.za. ‘And it will be at tighthead.’

This is good news for the Boks, who are currently struggling with injuries in the front row. Props Jannie du Plessis and Pat Cilliers were injury concerns after the 26-19 loss to the Wallabies last weekend, and inexperienced Stormers and WP No 3 Frans Malherbe was flown over from Cape Town for tighthead cover.

If all goes well, Oosthuizen could make his comeback for the Boks during their Rugby Championship home leg against the Wallabies and All Blacks. South Africa will face Australia in Pretoria on 29 September and New Zealand in Soweto on 6 October.

By Gareth Duncan