Cheetahs on a shopping spree ahead of Pro14 start
BLOEMFONTEIN –The Cheetahs have made a timely addition to their Pro14 squad with the signing of former Bulls centre Dries Swanepoel on a two-year deal.
In the Cheetahs' debut season of Pro14, the Bloemfontein-based side caught many by surprise as they progressed to the playoffs at the first time of asking.
However, it also exposed some key role-players to the northern hemisphere market, with captain Francois Venter and coach Rory Duncan heading off to join the Worcester Warriors in England.
Other departures in a relative exodus saw Torsten van Jaarsveld sign with French club Bayonne, while Fred Zeilinga, Carl Wegner, Reniel Hugo, Clinton Swart and Niel Marais will all play in Japan. Uzair Cassiem, Clayton Blommetjies and Tom Botha have also moved to Wales.
It means that the Cheetahs, now under the guidance of Franco Smith, will need to start afresh when the 2018-19 season rolls around.
For one, the Cheetahs have now secured the services of Swanepoel until the end of the 2020 season. Swanepoel joined Irish club Munster from the Bulls in April this year, but battled to receive much game time during his short-term stint.
He will now return to Bloemfontein, where he went to school at Grey College, with Swanepoel's arrival essentially fulfilling the gap left following the departure of Venter.
Another former Bulls player, Tian Schoeman, has also committed to the Cheetahs until 2020 after a spell playing for Bordeaux in the French Top 14 during the 2017-18 season.
As the Cheetahs squad continues to take shape for the Pro14, it's worth noting that the Kings announced a 29-man provisional squad back in June, which interestingly included Fiji Sevens flyer Meli Rokoua.
Besides Rokoua's arrival, former Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius has signed from the Dragons, while locks JC Astle and Schalk Oelofse have both returned to the Kings after a two-year stint at French club Mont-de-Marsan.
It has also been reported that ex-Bok wing Bjorn Basson could consider joining the Kings after recently being released from French club Oyonnax.
African News Agency (ANA)