Os backs Coenie’s tighthead switch

Os du Randt says Coenie Oosthuizen’s transition from loosehead to tighthead prop will be good for the player and the Springboks.

Oosthuizen will make his comeback from a serious neck injury when the Free State Cheetahs take on the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. He has been out of action since hurting himself during the Springboks’ June Test series against England.

His return will see him feature at tighthead prop, a position he has hardly played in during his professional career. He has predominantly been selected at loosehead since making his senior debut in 2008.

Bok head coach Heyneke Meyer sent an SOS to Cheetahs boss Naka Drotske to give the player an extended run in the No 3 jersey during the Currie Cup as it’s a position South Africa lacks depth in at Test level.

Following the departure of Cheetahs tighthead prop WP Nel to Scottish club Edinburgh after Super Rugby, Oosthuizen will have the opportunity to do so.

Cheetahs scrum coach Du Randt believes a successful positional switch will have major benefits.

‘Coenie’s transition from loosehead to tighthead prop was always on the cards,’ Du Randt told keo.co.za. ‘It’s a position he played in at school level. With WP Nel gone, the Cheetahs need a long-term replacement there too.

‘First of all, it will help prevent future neck injuries. At tighthead, you scrum with both shoulders and that offers you more support. At loosehead, you only scrum with your left shoulder. So if something goes wrong, it’s easier to get hurt.

‘If Coenie can can make a big impact during this switch, it will be a massive boon for the Springboks and Cheetahs,’ he continued. ‘It’s usually the loosehead prop that has a high work-rate. But with Coenie at tighthead, we will see both props all over the park.’

Du Randt added that Oosthuizen’s return to the Free State match-day squad is a much-needed boost following the Bloemfontein union’s poor start to the Currie Cup. Free State are currently in second-last place on the log after losing four of their six fixtures.

With the Bulls also struggling at the foot of the table with the same league record, this will be a must-win clash for both teams.

‘Coenie’s presence will lift the spirits in the squad. He’s the kind of character who always motivates his team-mates and leads from the front,’ said Du Randt. ‘With his strong ball-carrying ability and his solid defence, he’ll offer us a lot in the forwards battle.’

By Gareth Duncan