Three to watch: Toyota Cheetahs

Rich Dore
15 July 2018

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What a debut season it was for the Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14 in 2017/18.

Joining the Championship for the first time and having to adapt to new schedules and different styles of play, the Cheetahs flourished and made it to the Semi-Final Qualifiers at the first time of asking.

They now approach the upcoming season with plenty of knowledge and experience under their belts, with hopes of going even further into the competition.

Plans are underway in Bloemfontein as we speak, and here we take a look at three players to watch in 2018/19.

Ox Nche

It’s been an excellent 2018 so far for Ox Nche who this summer extended his contract with the Cheetahs and earnt his first Springbok cap in the match against Wales in Washington in June.

It’s not hard to see why both club and country are backing the 22-year-old prop with his solid scrummaging and explosive carrying ability.

Ox Nche in action for Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14

The former Cheetahs academy player is now well over half a century of appearances for his club and recorded some impressive statistics last season – gaining 347 metres and beating 19 defenders.

Most props usually get better as they age and so all eyes will be on Nche next season, one of the most dynamic front-rows in the Championship.

Nico Lee

Cheetahs centre Nico Lee certainly caught the eye last year, perhaps most notably with a hat-trick against the Kings, and looks to be a player who will continue to have an impact in 2018/19.

With fellow centre Francois Venter departing Lee could get more game-time but impressed with six tries in 14 appearances last term.

At 24 years old Lee already has the size to mix it at inside or outside centre and has the attacking game to trouble any opponent, making 15 clean breaks and beating 38 defenders with his pace and footwork last season.

Lee has recently extended his contract with the Bloemfontein club and may help them to reach new heights next year.

Nico Lee

Tian Schoeman

Some exciting business for the Cheetahs in the off-season has seen a new fly-half sign up to the cause in the shape of Tian Schoeman, who joins from French outfit Bordeaux.

The 26-year-old playmaker has committed until October 2020 and returns to South Africa after playing for the Blue Bulls in 2013-2016 and also representing the Bulls in 35 Super Rugby matches.

The dynamic fly-half was included in a 2016 Springbok squad but is yet to earn his first cap, and made 15 appearances for Bordeaux last season, scoring 42 points.

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