Posted on Wednesday, 27 Jan 2021
The Toyota Cheetahs is delighted to welcome three new players to the Cheetah family when training resumes on 3 February.
The 29-year-old lock, Rynier Bernardo, will be making a return to the Toyota Cheetahs following a stint abroad with the Canon Eagles in the Japanese Top League.
Bernardo, who previously played for the Southern Kings, Ospreys and Scarlets, played for the Toyota Cheetahs from 2017 to 2018 and made 27 appearances for the team.
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.
Bernardo is a product of Framesby High School in Port Elizabeth and represented the SA Schools Academy team in 2008.
Jean Droste will be reporting for duty at the Toyota Cheetahs next week when the team begins with their preparations for the soon to be announced Franchise Cup.
The 27-year-old lock stands at 2m tall and tips the scales at 108kg.
The Pretoria-born second-rower was schooled at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) and also attended the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
He has previously played for the Sharks and the Bulls, while he also enjoyed a stint in the Japanese Top League with the Kubota Spears.
Droste says that he is thankful for the opportunity given to him at the Toyota Cheetahs and he looks forward to the new journey.
“I'm really looking forward to the stay in Bloemfontein and 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 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.”
The East London-born and bred loosehead prop, Alulutho Tshakweni, will be joining the Toyota Cheetahs to bolster the front-row department.
Tshakweni is a former Junior Springbok and during the 2018 World Rugby under 20 Championship in France, he made five appearances for the Baby Boks.
He stands at 1,82m tall and weighs in at 107kg.
The product of Hudson Park High School previously played for the Border Bulldogs, as well as the Southern Kings and Bulls.
During the 2018/19 season, he represented the Kings in 11 Guinness PRO14 matches.
One of his former coaches describes him as a player that has a very good work rate, a player that covers all bases and doesn't go back in the scrum.
All three players will link up with the Toyota Cheetahs on 3 February and are on short-term contracts until the end of October 2021.
The Toyota Cheetahs management took note of Rhyno Smith's decision to leave the franchise at the end of June 2021. Smith reportedly obtained a contract with Treviso. Carl Wegner is also going to Italy; whose national coach knows both players well.
According to Hawies Fourie, the Cheetahs' Director of Rugby, his team has adequate depth at fullback and wing to fill the void. Smith has not been given much playing time lately due to injuries.
Toyota Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster says while the Toyota Cheetahs 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 Toyota Cheetahs have already made good progress in contracting new players and filling the gaps.
The full squad will be announced in a couple of weeks.