Johannesburg – Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen will make a welcome return to the playing field when he starts for the Cheetahs in their opening Super Rugby encounter against the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
“It is good to have Johan back in the thick of things,” Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske said on Wednesday.
“He is one of our star players and looked very good during practice. We look forward to a good performance from him against the Sharks.”
Goosen was kept on the sideline for nearly four months with a knee injury sustained last season. He also struggled with a sore heel which limited his goal kicking ability.
He had recovered in time to be included in the starting line-up and would partner with scrum half Piet van Zyl.
Drotske confirmed Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen will get some game time on Saturday.
Oosthuizen had recovered from a neck injury suffered last season while playing for the Springboks against England and had been included on the bench.
“He definitely will get some time on the field and as a ball carrier he will be crucial to our campaign,” Drotske said.
Drotske selected a side that combined power among the forwards with flair in the backline.
The Cheetahs had lost stalwarts Andries Strauss to the Southern Kings and Sias Ebersohn to the Western Force, but their backline was all but lacking in pace.
Griquas fullback Willie le Roux was selected on wing, partnering with another exciting prospect in Raymond Rhule.
New signing Johann Sadie would start alongside Robert Ebersohn as the hosts' centre combination after switching from the Bulls last season.
Looseforward Frans Viljoen earned a start in the flanker position after impressive performances in the warm-up matches against the Stormers and Bulls.
He would be one of the go-to guys for the Cheetahs looking for quality first-phase possession.
“Frans brings that physical factor that we need and he will form a good combination with Lappies Labuschagne and Philip van der Walt,” Drotske said.
“We are playing our first game at home and it will be a huge boost if we can come away with the win.”
Cheetahs team: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Frans Viljoen, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuizen, Waltie Vermeulen, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Ryno Benjamin. – Sapa