Cheetahs show claws

WITH their pre-season match against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth nine days away, the Cheetahs will fine-tune their preparations with training games against Griquas and Shimlas in Bloemfontein tomorrow.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has selected two teams with Team One playing against Shimlas and Team Two facing Griquas in what promise to be tough early season workouts.

Kings duo Shane Gates and Rynier Bernardo, who are attempting to make the cut for the Cheetahs' Super Rugby squad, have been included in the side to play Griquas.

Drotske said Gates would start at fullback against Griquas, but that it was likely he would also be given a chance to play at his preferred position of centre.

Bernardo starts at flank, but is also likely to be given an opportunity to pack down at lock.

All eyes will be on the new Cheetahs signings – centre Francois Venter (Bulls) and wing Cornal Hendricks, who has moved to Bloemfontein after starring for the Blitz Boks.

After tomorrow's matches Drotske will cut his squad to 36 players for a training camp in Jeffreys Bay ahead of the Kings clash next Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

They will also have a match against Madibaz on Tuesday.

Despite missing some key players, the Cheetahs will be able to call on their international stars – Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen and Willie le Roux – tomorrow.

Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen, who suffered a serious knee injury last season, could be called into action for the games against the Madibaz or Kings.

The Kings have been hard at work preparing for the season under new coach Carlos Spencer and will relish the chance to make an impression against the star-studded Cheetahs.

The Cheetahs teams:

Team One: (v Shimlas): Willie le Roux, Rayno Benjamin, Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule, Elgar Watts, Kevin Luiters, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Hercu Liebenberg, Rossouw de Klerk, Ligtoring Landman, Andries Ferreira, Oupa Mohoje, Inus Kritzinger, Riaan Smit, Cornal Hendricks, Shane Gates

Team Two (v Griquas): Shane Gates, Cornal Hendricks, Piet Lindeque, Howard Mnisi, Norman Nelson, Riaan Smit, Inus Kritzinger, Hilton Lobberts, Oupa Mohoje, Rynier Bernardo, Ligtoring Landman, Andries Ferreira, Rossouw de Klerk, Ryno Barnes, Caylib Oosthuizen. Replacements: AJ le Roux, Max van Dyk, Chris Ehlers, Waltie Vermeulen, Martin Sithole, Kevin Luiters, Elgar Watts, Rayno Benjamin, Hennie Daniller