Springbok Heinrich Brussow is set to start his first match in almost six months, when the Cheetahs play the Force in Perth on Saturday.
The 26-year-old openside flank, who underwent surgery to repair a shoulder injury sustained in a Currie Cup match against Griquas in September last year, looks set to replace the injured Frans Viljoen.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie confirmed to this website that Viljoen is a doubtful starter for a game that could see the Bloemfontein outfit create history.
The Cheetahs, who recorded their third successive win (27-26) over the Waratahs in Sydney last Friday, will look to win three matches on an overseas tour for the first time.
The victory in Sydney was the first time they had won back-to-back matches on tour and a third consecutive win has been achieved on only five occasions by South African franchises - Stormers three times (2008, 2011, 2012), the Bulls (2007) and the Sharks (2009).
The Stormers' 2011 run - wins over the Blues, Brumbies and Rebels - is still the only SA hat-trick on the road.
While the physical presence of Viljoen will be missed against the Force in Perth, Brussow's scavenging skills will be a welcome addition to the starting XV.
"Frans Viljoen injured his calf early in the game [against the Waratahs," Fourie told this website in an interview from Sydney - where the Cheetahs will prepare for the encounter with the Force.
"We will know on Monday. However, he is barely walking without discomfort, so it is not looking like he'll be ready."
The Cheetahs do have Sevens Springbok Johannes Prinsloo in their tour squad and if Brussow set to get promoted to the starting XV, Prinsloo will come onto the bench.
Fourie said Brussow did very well in the games he came on - 56 minutes against the Tahs and 30 minutes in the win over the Highlanders the week before.
"It is the right time now to start him," Fourie said of Brussow.
The only other injury concern is prop Trevor Nyakane, who is struggling with a shoulder injury.
Bok prop Coenie Oosthuizen, another Bok working his way back to full fitness after a lengthy injury-enforced lay-off, came on for Nyakane in the 43rd minute against the Waratahs and will start in the No.1 jersey if his younger teammate is ruled out.
"We are not sure how serious it [Nyakane's injury] is, but we are hopeful that he will be ready to face the Force," Fourie said.
"Trevor made a number of big tackles before half-time [nine first-half tackles] and took a few blows. He got a bit of a stinger on the shoulder and lost feeling."
Meanwhile the Cheetahs decided to do the bulk of their preparations in Sydney, before heading to Perth on Thursday.
Fourie explained that because Thursday is the rest day, they decided to also use that as their travel day - rather than this past Saturday.
"The players were still trying to overcome their bumps and bruises," he said about the after-effects of the win over the Tahs, adding: "It helps with the rehabilitation if we don't fly.
"We will have our captain's run in Perth [on Friday]," he added.
By Jan de Koning
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