Johannesburg – Eyebrows were raised on Wednesday following reports that flyhalf Johan Goosen might play off the bench in the Cheetahs’ final Currie Cup game of the round-robin stage against the Bulls in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Goosen, who burst onto the scene two years ago and earned four Test caps last year, has spent most of the year on the sidelines, after tearing knee ligaments during the Super Rugby season. He also recently underwent an appendix operation.
Just two weeks ago, Cheetahs boss Naka Drotske insisted the 21-year-old would not play again this season, but it emerged on Wednesday Goosen may be among the replacements at the weekend. He will, however, first have to pass a fitness test on Thursday.
Goosen is apparently itching to play and there’s talk that he may be considered for a place in the Springbok team for next month’s tour of Wales, Scotland and France.
While many will argue it is pointless for Goosen to play at this time of the year, considering the Cheetahs have just one guaranteed game left in the season – Saturday’s outing against the Bulls – former Bok flyhalf Naas Botha has a different opinion.
“If he’s healthy, let him play. He’s the only one who’ll know whether he’s good to play,” said Botha on Wednesday.
If the Cheetahs beat the Bulls, then Drotske’s team will also play in a semi-final and possibly the final; and Goosen could be a key figure in those games.
“With the so-called squad system now, there’s no such thing as easing players into the team anymore,” said Botha. “Just look at Richie McCaw, he went into Test rugby straight after his sabbatical.
“But, that said, flyhalf is one of those positions in the team where you play yourself into a rhythm. Ideally, you’d want your flyhalf to play one or two games after an injury at another level of competition, but there’s nowhere for Goosen to play right now.
“If he feels fine, he must surely play. If something (bad) happens to him, then it’s bad luck.”
If Goosen passes his fitness test on Thursday, he’ll replace Piet Lindeque in the squad. Two other current Boks, Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen, have been included in the starting XV.
Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Rayno Benjamin, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagné, Boom Prinsloo, Lood de Jager, Francois Uys, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: AJ le Roux, Schalk van der Merwe, Teboho Mohoje, Freddie Ngoza, Piet van Zyl, Piet Lindeque, Willie du Plessis.