Morgan Piek – After losing their forth lock to an overseas based club, the Free State Rugby Union and Toyota Cheetahs have been hit incredibly hard in the specialist position. For quite some time now the position has been an area of concern for the Bloemfonteiners. In an era where lineout work is as imperative as the scrums, the need for a quality lineout jumper as well as a lock that can scrum is a rare find.
The highly impressive Carl Wegner this week announced that he signed a two year contract with Stade Francais. Wegner’s departure follows shortly after George Earle left just after the Super Rugby series and Izak van der Westhuizen at the conclusion of the 2012 Absa Currie Cup. The Cheetahs sister union the Griquas themselves lost the services of their one of their better locks, Frikkie Spies to yet another French club.
The Cheetahs had acquired the services of the Andries Ferreira earlier in the year. Despite being hounded with a bad knee injury, the big man who previously played in France proved to be an invaluable investment. He has subsequently been operated on and should be ready for their 2013 Super Rugby campaign.
With the MTN Lions out of Super Rugby for 2013 at least, the Cheetahs could have done with the services of their Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe. However, that was not to be.
In comes the colossal Lodewyk de Jager of the Leopards. The 2,05m tall, 120kg lock who represented the Pukke in the Varsity Cup is a welcome addition to the Cheetahs setup. Matching the size and physicality of DHL Western Provinces’ Eben Eztebeth who just last night was named the 2012 SARU Young Player of the Year; Lodewyk de Jager can be a very imposing figure indeed and will add much need stability to the Cheetahs pack.
Many consider De Jager to be very unlucky not to have made the U20 Baby Boks who won the 2012 IRB Junior World Championships.