Free State Rugby is delighted to announce that eight talented players have committed their future with the Toyota Cheetahs until 2019 and they are William Small-Smith, Nico Lee, Elandré Huggett, Ernst Stapelberg, JP du Preez, Lloyd Greeff, Sibabalo Qoma and Dennis Visser.
Indications are that announcements on a number of other top players can be expected soon due to the fact that the contracting process only just started.
William Small-Smith (Centre)
Date of Birth 31 March 1992
Super Rugby Debut: 2014 vs. Highlanders (Bulls)
Guinness PRO14: 1 September 2017 vs Ulster
Springbok Sevens: 2011 – 2012
Success seems to follow Small-Smith wherever he goes with the talented midfielder receiving gold medals as part of the Springboks Sevens team, the Junior Springboks and the Blue Bulls’ U21 team since finishing school only four years ago.
Fast and with a proven ability to finish, Small-Smith’s real strength lies in his on-field organisational and leadership traits. A leader of men with a natural feel for the game, the developing centre will become even more influential in years to come.
He made his debut against the Highlanders in April last year and showed why he was so highly rated. Deft touches and solid defence allowed players around him to blossom and more of the same can be expected of this gifted midfielder in 2015.
Small-Smith played in 8 of 10 games in the 2016 Currie Cup, the two matches he didn’t play was the Semi Final against the Lions in Bloemfontein and in the Home Final against the Blue Bulls. (2016 Currie Cup Champions). Small-Smith has a total of 28 Currie Cup caps to his name with a total of 21 SuperRugby matches and 10 Guinness PRO14 caps so far.
Nico Lee (Centre)
Date of Birth 13 March 1994
Currie Cup Debut: 2016 vs WP (Cheetahs)
Super Rugby Debut: 2016 vs. Bulls (Cheetahs)
Guinness PRO14: 16 September 2017 vs Zebre
Lee played schoolboy rugby for Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool in Pretoria, but missed out on selection for the Blue Bulls’ squad for the Craven Week competition in 2012. In 2013, Lee moved to Bloemfontein where he represented the Free State U19 side in the 2013 Under-21 Provincial Championship competition, making eleven starts during the season, scoring four tries and a penalty during the campaign.
Lee played 8 of 10 games in the 2016 Currie Cup, including the Semi Final against the Lions in Bloemfontein and in the Home Final against the Blue Bulls. (2016 Currie Cup Champions). Lee has a total of 9 Currie Cup caps to his name and represented the Toyota Cheetahs in 14 Super Rugby matches and 12 Guinness PRO14 matches to date. Nico scored a hat-trick of tries against the Kings on the 13th of January 2018 in a Guinness PRO14 match in Port Elizabeth.
Elandre Hugget (Hooker)
Date of Birth 5 October 1991
Currie Cup Debut: 2012 vs Griquas
Super Rugby Debut: 2015 vs. Waratahs (Cheetahs)
He joined Welkom-based side Griffons in 2013 and played 15 matches. He was a key member of their 2014 Currie Cup First Division side. He played in the final and helped the Griffons win the match against the Valke 23–21 to win their first trophy for six years.
In 2015 he played in 2 Super Rugby matches making his debut on 6 June 2015 against the Waratahs in Bloemfontein as a substitute for Torsten van Jaarsveld. Huggett has a total of 15 SuperRugby caps and 16 Currie Cup caps to his name.
Ernst Stapelberg (Flyhalf)
Date of Birth 6 February 1995
Guinness PRO14 debut: 16 September 2017 vs. Zebre
Having represented South Africa at the 2015 U20 World Champions Ernst Stapelberg continued to represent his University, Maties, in the Varsity Cup.
With an accurate boot and array of skills, he helped Maties to the 2017 Varsity Cup final and he was eventually named in the Dream Team. His efforts earned him a call up into the Western Province squad for the 2017 Currie Cup.
In late August 2017, the Free State Cheetahs bolstered their squad with the signing of the former Junior Springbok for the remainder of their Currie Cup season and he also made his debut for the Guinness PRO14 side and playing four matches. Stapelberg is currently rated under the top 15 best Guinness PRO14 kickers in the 2017/18 championship.
JP du Preez (Lock)
Date of Birth 9 November 1994
In 2015, Du Preez was included in the Lions squad for the 2015 Super Rugby season and was named on the bench for their Round two matches against the Sharks. He made his Super Rugby debut, coming on as a substitute just after the hour mark and, in doing so, becoming the tallest player ever to play Super Rugby. Du Preez signed with the Toyota Cheetahs in 2017 till 2019.
Lloyd Greeff (Centre)
Date of Birth 3 January 1994
Greeff joined the Golden Lions, but suffered a knee injury that ruled him out of action for the majority of his Lions career. He made just a single senior appearance for the team, as a late replacement in a 35–all draw against the Eastern Province Kings in the 2016 Currie Cup.
Greeff moved to Italy to join Pro12 side Zebre before the 2016–2017 season.
He played his first Currie Cup match for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs from the bench in 2017 against WP in Cape Town. He played his first Currie Cup match in the starting line-up against the Pumas at Toyota Stadium.
Sibabalo Qoma (Lock/flank)
Date of Birth 14 August 1995
Sibabalo Qoma came through the Toyota Free State Academy and was named the Toyota Free State XV player the year for 2017 after a good year on the field.
Dennis Visser (Lock)
Date of Birth 20 February 1993
Currie Cup Debut 19 August 2017 vs. Bulls
Guinness PRO14 4 November 2017 vs. Connacht
Visser was named in the training squad of Bloemfontein-based Super Rugby franchise the Cheetahs for the 2016 Super Rugby season.  In January 2016, he was released from the training squad to join Varsity Cup side UFS Shimlas.