Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
13 Jan 2022
12:23 pm

Pienaar, Steyn to lead Cheetahs’ charge in Currie Cup opener

Ross Roche

The men from Bloemfontein open their 2022 challenge with a match against neighbours, Griquas.

Veteran No 9 Ruan Pienaar is back lead the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup opener against Griquas. Picture: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images

The Cheetahs on Thursday named a powerful team to take on the Griquas in their opening Currie Cup match at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar returns from his loan stint at the Sharks, where he played in all five of their United Rugby Championship games so far, to lead the side while Springbok utility back Frans Steyn starts at inside centre.

Recent signings from the Griquas, exciting wing Enver Brandt and explosive flank Gideon van der Merwe, both slot straight into the starting side.

ALSO READ: Cheetahs stalwart talks Currie Cup and the ‘return’ off Ruan Pienaar

A wet weather battle is on the cards for the match, with the Cheetahs basing their selection around that.

“We expect it to be wet on Saturday and we have prepared for that. We have Ruan who is a really good kicker out of hand and we have Frans and Clayton Blommetjies, so we have three really good kickers in our team,” said Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie.

“We have Chris (Smit) at flyhalf and he’s a very good attacking player and I just felt we needed someone to play there to do a little bit more and get our attack going.”

Pienaar is excited to be back with his side and believes the team has had a good build up to the Currie Cup, with them getting some valuable game time in the Toyota Challenge in November.

“It is great to be back here, watching the guys in the Toyota Cup and playing against them for the Sharks was a bit strange. But I thought the guys have made a lot of good progress which sets us up well going forward,” said Pienaar.

“It’s an exciting team we’ve got, we know it’s a tough challenge first up and we’ve got a lot of respect for Griquas as a team. So it’s a tough one first up but we have prepared well this week and we know we have to be clinical.”

The action kicks off at 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Craig Barry, David Brits, Frans Steyn, Enver Brandt, Chris Smit, Ruan Pienaar (c), Mihlali Mosi, Aidon Davis, Gideon van der Merwe, Victor Sekekete, Rynier Bernardo, Marne Coetzee, Marnus van der Merwe, Schalk Ferreira. Bench: Louis van der Westhuizen, Alulutho Tshakweni, Conraad van Vuuren, Sergio Moreira, Andisa Ntsila, Rewan Kruger, Robert Ebersohn, Malcolm Jaer