Trio to boost Cheetahs pack

The Cheetahs will welcome three new forwards – including experienced lock Rynier Bernardo returning – to the team when training resumes on 3 February.

Bernardo will be making a return to the Cheetahs following a stint abroad with the Canon Eagles in the Japanese Top League.

The 29-year-old lock, who previously played for the Southern Kings, Ospreys and Scarlets, had his first stint with the Cheetahs from 2017 to 2018 and made 27 appearances for the team.

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Barnardo stands at 1.99m tall and weighs in at 112kg and has proven in the past that he is valuable at lineout time, while he is also a strong ball-carrier.

He will be joined by former Sharks lock Jean Droste and former Kings prop Alulutho Tshakweni as new signings for the Bloemfontein side.

Droste previously played for the Sharks and Vodacom Bulls, while he also enjoyed a stint in the Japanese Top League with the Kubota Spears.

East London-born and bred loosehead prop Tshakweni is a former Junior Springbok and made five appearances during the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship in France.

Droste says that he is thankful for the opportunity given to him at the  Cheetahs and he looks forward to the new journey.

‘I’m really looking forward to the stay in Bloemfontein and is excited to get going with the team. With everything that is going on, contracts are a bit difficult to come by. You need that opportunity to come your way.

‘I’m thankful to the Cheetahs for giving me this opportunity to go out there to play again and prove myself.

‘For me, it is a good move to come to the Cheetahs and hopefully I will be able to get a lot of game time. I’m looking forward to the challenge, meeting everyone here, and the season that lies ahead. Whatever lies ahead we are not sure about yet, but looking forward to the unknown as well.’

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All three players will link up with the Cheetahs on 3 February and are on short-term contracts until the end of October 2021.

Meanwhile, the Cheetahs management has also taken note of fullback Rhyno Smith’s decision to leave the team for a move to Treviso at the end of June 2021. Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster says while they are sorry to lose one of their top players, it is comforting to know that he will still be available until the completion of the Franchise Cup competition.

The full Cheetahs squad will be announced in a couple of weeks.

Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images