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Rugby | Pro14

Makazole Mapimpi © BackPage Pix

Cheetahs need new wings

The Toyota Cheetahs may have virtually secured their place in the Guinness Pro14 quarterfinals with back to back wins over the Southern Kings on Saturday, but they will need some new firepower if they are to get to the playoff rounds unscathed.

With a week off now before their fourth tour abroad in the competition, the Cheetahs will need to find two new wingers, as their try-scoring pair of Makazole Mapimpi and Craig Barry both played their last games for the franchise this past Saturday.

Mapimpi will link up with the Cell C Sharks today while Barry was on loan from the DHL Stormers, and will return to his Cape training base as well.

This comes after the Cheetahs already lost the likes of Springbok winger Raymond Rhule and the nippy Sergeal Petersen to the Stormers in off-season acquisitions, with the duo already making their debuts for the Stormers against SWD this past weekend.

And the loss is no small matter either. Mapimpi is the competition’s top scorer and Barry has proved exceptionally elusive and smart on attack since joining the Cheetahs for the Pro14.

Mapimpi has scored 10 tries in the Pro14 this year, three more than his nearest rivals Angelo Esposito of Treviso and Munster winger Alex Wooton. Mapimpi also leads the competition in clean breaks with 22, five ahead of Zebre’s Mattia Bellini and Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn.

Barry has also been exceptional, scoring the brace that allowed the Cheetahs to beat the Scarletts in their recent game in Bloemfontein and is forever a danger on the field.

While Mapimpi is definitely going to be part of the Sharks’ plans for the season, Barry may well find himself surplus to requirements in Cape Town, meaning there is an outside chance he may return to Bloemfontein for the remainder of the Pro14 competition.

Malcolm Jaer is almost over his injury and should be ready in a week’s time to join his teammates as they head north, but William Small-Smith will still be on the sidelines.

It is unclear if Francois Venter will be ready in time for the tour, but there is the hope that he will be fit to join his teammates after taking a knock to the neck a few weeks back.

Torsten van Jaarsveld was cleared to play against the Kings’ on Saturday and while he could have taken the field, the Cheetahs decided not to risk him. He should rejoin the team for the tour and important match against the Cardiff Blues.

Clinton Swart came on as a reserve in Saturday’s win, while Tertius Kruger should also be fit and ready for selection by next week.


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