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Rugby | SA Rugby

Cheetahs retain key players

The Toyota Cheetahs have retained the services of eight of their stalwart players, including the backline duo of William Small-Smith and Nico Lee.

Lee was in the sights of the Vodacom Bulls but has chosen to stay with the Cheetahs and will playin the Pro14 competition along with a number of other players that have been signed until the end of the 2019 season.

The move underlines the new-found stability in the Cheetahs’ ranks in the European competition, as they look to lose less players to other teams than in the past.

Director of Rugby Franco Smith will take over the coaching at the end of the current Pro14 competition when current coach Rory Duncan moves to take up a position as the new head coach of Worcester Warriors.

The Cheetahs not only signed Small-Smith and Lee, but also six other players in Elandre Huggett, Ernst Stapelberg, JP du Preez, Lloyd Greeff, Sibabalo Qoma and Dennis Visser and have indicated that they are close to retaining a number of other players’ whose contracts also end at the end of this season.

Small-Smith has become a regular in the team since moving from the Bulls and has appeared for the Cheetahs on both the wing and in the midfield this season and continues to be one of the leadership figures for the province

Lee, who scored five tries in two matches this season agains the Kings, and is a key player alongside captain Francois Venter in the midfield.

Hooker Elandre Huggett came from the Griffons in 2013 and provided valuable back-up to Namibian hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld thus far while Stapelberg, who represented the SA under-20 side in 2015 and was a Varsity Cup standout, taking Maties to the 2017 Cup final before being called up by Western Province into their Currie Cup squad.

Stapelberg joined the Cheetahs on a short term contract in August last year and has played four times for the Cheetahs in this year’s Pro14 competition.

Lock JP du Preez has been signed recently from the Lions and is on record as having been the tallest player to play Super Rugby while midfielder Lloyd Greeff returned from Italy where he played for Zebre to join the Cheetahs at the beginning of 2017.

Sibabalo Qoma was the Cheetahs Supersport Challenge player of the year for 2017 while lock Dennis Visser is a long-term stalwart at the Cheetahs.


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