Eight Toyota Cheetahs players have been called up to the Springboks’ second training camp ahead of the June Test matches against France. A total of 41 players were invited to attend the camp in Stellenbosch.
The Cheetahs’ flank, Uzair Cassiem, and Oupa Mohoje have both cracked the nod, albeit Cassiem is still battling with an injury.
The captain, Francois Venter, will also be attending the camp for the second time this year. Venter made his long awaited return to the field last week and was impressive during the side’s 38-30 loss to the Sharks in Bloemfontein. Venter did, however, score one of the team’s three tries. The is still doubt on whether or not he will be playing against the Stormers in Cape Town this weekend after picking up a hamstring niggle early in the game last year.
Ox Nche, who attended the first camp in Johannesburg, also made his return against the Sharks after a knee injury ruled him out of the trip to Argentina. He was as impressive as usual and will also be linking up with the national training squad, while his Springbok U20 teammate, Joseph Dweba, was omitted.
The winger, Raymond Rhule, is knocking on the national door, following some big performances in the Super Rugby thus far, and could very well be the first choice flyer on the left this year. Rhule is another player that returned and also crossed the whitewash against the Sharks. Sadly Sergeal Petersen is still struggling with a knee injury and has also injured his hamstring.in the process. This has seen the exciting speedster not receiving an invite for the second camp.
The Super Rugby’s leading points scorer, Fred Zeilinga, has been in sublime form for the Cheetahs this season with both the ball and his decision making. With an injury to Patrick Lambie, and Handré Pollard of the Bulls not impressing at all this since his return, the Cheetahs’ pivot could very well find himself in the mix for the three Tests against the French.
At this stage it would hardly be a surprise if the 19-year-old Curwin Bosch of the Sharks dons the number 10 green-and-gold jersey.
Speaking to Courant about Zeilinga, Venter said the backline general has made a proper step-up in Super Rugby this season.
“I must complement Fred, he has been a different player this year as opposed to last year”, said the Springbok centre.
“He is a lot calmer this year and his decision making is a lot better. But with Niel Marais there as well you can pick either one because they are performing well.
“It’s all about the team and everybody just needs to complement each other and hopefully we’ll get the success.”
The scrumhalf, Shaun Venter, who is another player that missed the first few games of the season through injury, has been solid in his one and half outings thus far and enough to earn a first invite along with Zeilinga.
The most surprising invite belongs to the Cheetahs fullback, Clayton Blommetjies. While we all know the player has major spark, his form of late has been less than convincing and will really need to become more consistent if he wants to pull the hollowed green-and-gold over his head this season.
The Springbok training camp in Stellenbosch runs from 2 to 4 April. -MORGAN PIEK