Posted on Friday, 21 Jul 2020
The Toyota Cheetahs will have a welcome boost of international experience when they return to the field after luring two-time Rugby World Cup winner Frans Steyn, experienced Springbok Sevens star Rosko Specman, and Namibian International Louis van der Westhuizen to Bloemfontein.
The trio is among eight new players that have been recruited by the Guinness PRO14 franchise to replace a handful of players who have departed, while another Springbok, Oupa Mohoje (utility forward), has extended his contract with the Free Staters.
Steyn – a versatile back who has featured at flyhalf, centre, wing and fullback – has 67 Test caps to his name and is one of only two players who has won two Rugby World Cup titles with the Boks (in 2007 and 2019).
The 33-year-old Steyn joined the Toyota Cheetahs from French club Montpellier, but earlier in his career, he also played for the Cell C Sharks, Toshiba Brave Lupus (Japan) and Racing Metro (France).
In a way, Steyn – one of only two Springboks who has lifted the Webb Ellis Cup twice in his career – has gone full circle, as he was schooled at the famous Grey College in Bloemfontein and also played Youth Week rugby for the Free State.
Specman – a two-time HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series winner with the Blitzboks and a bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games – has decided to move back to Bloemfontein after representing the Vodacom Bulls in 2018 and 2019.
Van der Westhuizen (hooker) will also bring international experience in his role after representing Namibia in the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups in England and Japan.
They will be joined by a number of new players in the Toyota Cheetahs’ squad, including Howard Mnisi (centre), Reniel Hugo (utility forward), Andisa Ntsila (looseforward), Carl Wegner (lock) and Reinhardt Fortuin (flyhalf).
Mnisi, who ran out for the Toyota Cheetahs in the 2013 and 2014 seasons while on loan from Tafel Lager Griquas, returns after playing stints with the Emirates Lions and the Isuzu Southern Kings.
Hugo and Wegner, who ran out for the Toyota Verblitz club in Japan recently, are also no strangers to Bloemfontein. Hugo helped steer the Toyota Free State Cheetahs to the Currie Cup title in 2016 and represented the franchise in their inaugural Guinness PRO14 season (2017/18), while Wegner played for the Toyota Cheetahs on two separate occasions between his stints at Stade Francais and the Verblitz.