The Cheetahs enter preseason phase two

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MORGAN PIEK

The Toyota Cheetahs have their second phase of their Super Rugby preseason underway after taking a bit of a breather this last week.

The players reported back for duty on Monday after some rest and recreation, which even saw some of the players and coaching staff attend the 2015 Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City last weekend.

The Cheetahs have just one injury concern at the moment and that is Springbok flank, Oupa Mohoje, who injured his knee during the Springbok Sevens training camp in Stellenbosch a few weeks ago.

This will see Mohoje miss at least the first month of the tournament next year. Furthermore, captain Francois Uys has jetted off to Japan where he is representing Toyota Verblitz in the Japanese Top League.    

Coach Franco Smith told Courant that the Mohoje injury is a big blow, but he is, however, delighted that Uys is gaining experience in Japan.

"It's a pity about Oupa. He is basically the only injury that we have picked up and it wasn't with us, so that's fairly good news. For Francois it's a good opportunity to go to Japan, I think it's important for him to maybe experience a different culture at this stage of his career."

He added that they are still going to focus on their conditioning, but are also on their campaign for next year.
Smith and his technical team are getting the players to run between training venues instead of driving by car in an attempt to sharpen up the fitness levels even more.

"We're seeing that and a 10-day training camp; it's not just two weeks of training. We want to work hard on the game specific aspects and then also continue with the conditioning. The groups are going to be very focused because there isn't must PR to be done. Our focus will be completely on what is going to be happening next season."

Meanwhile, the Cheetahs have unveiled their new identity to take the franchise forward.

After nine years of sharing a Super Rugby franchise with neighbours Griquas and Griffons, the Free State Cheetahs will in 2016 be the sole shareholder and the team will be prominently wearing orange and white with no purple and turquoise in their playing kit and colours.

With Free State Cheetahs rugby being the focus, a simplified and subtle change has also been made to the logo with the Currie Cup logo replacing the Cheetah head in the old version. 

While the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers have all unveiled their strips for next season, the Cheetahs version is expected to be launched early in 2016.

The Cheetahs kick off their Super Rugby campaign against the Los Jaguars of Argentina in Bloemfontein on 26 February 2016.