CAPE TOWN - Cheetahs skipper Adriaan Strauss is positive that Coenie Oosthuizen will return from injury ahead of the start of the season.
The Free State side had positive news on Tuesday with Johan Goosen passing a fitness test.
He is likely to face the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Strauss says they are looking better on the injury front.
“There are few guys that are coming back from injury. I think Coenie Oosthuizen is ready and fit to play.”
The Cheetahs say they want to make Free State Stadium a fortress this season, as they await the Sharks on Saturday.
Last season, the Sharks were victorious against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and Durban.
Strauss says, “You must be able to play home and away in this competition. I think we’ve proven to ourselves we can play away and win away. You need to win most of your home games and we want to win all our home games. Playing the Sharks in our first game is definitely not going to make it easier.”
Strauss says they have lost a vital player with Juan Smith's early retirement due to injury.
“We’ve lost him in the past, when he was injured two years ago. He makes a massive difference in the squad. He’s an inspiring player especially to the younger guys. It’s tough losing a guy like him because he’s an amazing leader.”
Strauss could not confirm whether there's a plan for Smith to play a role for the franchise, but he's sure the flank won't stray too far.
“I think, this week, he just wanted to get away a bit. We didn’t see him a lot this week but he’s very passionate about the Cheetahs. Like I said, he cares a lot about the union and everyone cares about him so he will definitely be available for us.”