Van der Linde blow for Cheetahs

The Cheetahs, still reeling from their 30-14 hammering at the hands of the Sharks at the weekend and having to face the Brumbies this week, before their five-match Australasian road trip, were dealt another cruel injury blow at the weekend.

Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus confirmed that Springbok prop CJ van der Linde is likely to miss the remained of the Super 14 tournament with a torn calf muscle.

Van der Linde left the field in the second half of the Super 14 defeat to the Sharks, in Bloemfontein, and while the full extent of the injury will only be confirmed on Monday, it appears his season is over.

He was a doubtful starter ahead of the Sharks encounter, but passed a late fitness test on Friday.

However, he now joins Barend Pieterse and Adriaan Strauss on the list of players ruled out of the competition.

It is a big blow, not only for the Cheetahs, but also for Van der Linde in this World Cup year.

He may not return in time for the June internationals and could be in a race against time ahead of the Tri-Nations.

Despite the loss, the latest injury setback and the pending road trip, Erasmus refused to be downbeat about his team’s faltering season.

“You have to give credit to the Sharks,” Erasmus said of the three tries to two defeat.

“They came from Durban to beat us here, they scored three tries and it’s awesome for them. They scored two set-phase tries and one intercept try. I must say well done to Dick [Muir, Sharks coach] and the guys.”

Erasmus said the doubt that set in after an intercept try by JP Pietersen midway through the second half is what really cost his team.

“We were on our way to equaling [the scores], when they scored that intercept try. Then the doubt set in.

“After losing [heavily – 28-49] to the Crusaders and then drawing with the Chiefs [the next week] the doubt set in. But that is what we, as coaches, have to get out of them. The work will start on Monday.”

Erasmus said that while Van der Linde’s injury is obviously a setback, he will also have some players coming back from injury.

The Cheetahs coach is hoping to have the likes of Rory Duncan, Bevin Fortuin, Darron Nell, Barry Goodes, Giscard Pieters and Marius Joubert back in the next few weeks.

However, he refused to let the injury setbacks or the defeats get him down.

“Those are the things we have to handle …a bit of bad luck. Wen we started this competition we knew those were the risks.

“I’m not the only coach that is having injury problems and I’m not the only coach that is losing, so we’ll have to go work on that on Monday again.”

Erasmus said he will look at his team’s defence – mostly their set phase defence, where the Sharks scored two of their tries from.

“At the end of the day the guys showed a lot of heart, but it wasn’t good enough against a well-drilled team,” Erasmus said.

The Cheetahs face the Brumbies in Bloemfontein this week, then have a bye, before heading off on a six-match road trip – which includes games against the Highlanders (in Invercargill, on March 30), the Blues (in Auckland), the Hurricanes (in Wellington), the Reds (in Brisbane) and the Western Force (in Perth).

Their final match is against the Lions in Johannesburg on May 5.

 

365 Digital

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