Injuries a concern for Cheetahs

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The impressive centre, Clinton Swart, picked up a rib injury during the Toyota Cheetahs 34-28 win over the Bulls on Saturday in the Super Rugby. Swart may miss the Cheetahs match against the Sunwolves in the third round. PHOTO: NICOLETTE TALJAARD

The Toyota Cheetahs are sweating over the fitness of several key players this week ahead of their Super Rugby third round clash against the Sunwolves on Saturday.

The Cheetahs sustained injuries to the centre, Clinton Swart, the prop, Ox Nche, the lock, Reniel Hugo and the Springbok flank, Uzair Cassiem on Saturday evening during their outstanding 34-28 win over the Bulls in Bloemfontein.

Nche, Hugo and Cassiem all sustained knee injuries and it is suspected that they are all Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) strains, which is the same injury the winger, Sergeal Petersen, sustained during their defeat to the Lions in round one.

Swart, who scored the team’s opening try, injured his ribs during the match. At this stage it is suspected that it a rib cartilage injury.

The coach, Franco Smith, said Swart’s injury is a blow to the side, seeing that the player has been impressive during his first two games.

“While he was on the field he was looking good,” said Smith.

“It looks like he might have injured the some rib cartilage. He is going to become better, he adapts well into our systems.

“It was the same with Nico Lee last season. He came in and stuck to the system and it worked well. From his side he is contributing and he is giving his heart to the Cheetahs, so we can allow him one or two errors. It’s a pity he got that knock, but we will assess and see how it goes going forward.”

Nche and Cassiem as well as five other Cheetahs joined the new Springbok backline coach, Smith, on the flight to Johannesburg on Sunday for the men in green-and-gold’s first training camp.

The other players who went to the Bok camp are Francois Venter, Sergeal Petersen, Oupa Mohoje, Joseph Dweba and Raymond Rhule.

The good news for the team is that the centres, William Small-Smith (broken hand) and Michael van der Spuy (concussion), have seemingly recovered sufficiently from their respective injuries and could be playing against the Sunwolves.

The team’s captain, Francois Venter, may only be ready for the team’s first away match on 18 March when they will tackle the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Saturday evening’s match between the Cheetahs and the Sunwolves at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein kicks off at 17:15. – MORGAN PIEK