CAPE TOWN – Having first made his name at the Bulls, it will be a “special occasion” for Clayton Blommetjies when he makes his 100th appearance for the Cheetahs in Friday’s Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Pretoria side in Bloemfontein.
The 30-year-old fullback hails from Paarl in the Western Cape, but moved from the Boland youth team to the Bulls in 2009.
Blommetjies played senior rugby out of Loftus Versfeld until 2014, before shifting to the Cheetahs in 2017, and he has remained in Bloemfontein since – apart from ill-fated sojourns in Wales (Scarlets) and England (Leicester Tigers) in 2018 and 2019.
But he is back home at the Free State Stadium and lit up the pitch during last week’s tournament opener against the Pumas with a number of line-breaks.
He will look to take on the Bulls defence as well as part of an unchanged starting line-up announced by the Cheetahs on Wednesday.
“Clayton has had his ups and downs over the years, and I think he grew into a really, I can say not only talented, but he matured so much. If you look at the ball carries he makes every week, he is most of the time the top carrier,” Cheetahs forwards coach Corniel van Zyl said during an online press conference.
“He gets involved, and this week, it will be a special occasion for him. I am just looking forward to seeing how he can perform, and play well.”
There is one new face on the bench, with Jacques du Toit coming in for Louis van der Westhuizen as the reserve hooker for Friday’s showdown (7pm kickoff).
“During the lockdown, you want consistency because the players have to get used to each other again and handle the match situations. From the first half where we played well, it was half an easy decision to keep the team the same,” Van Zyl said.
“In terms of the change on the bench, Jacques comes in for ‘Chucky’ (Van der Westhuizen), and it was a difficult decision. Chucky didn’t do too much wrong, so there isn’t a reason that he is out of the team.
“We just felt, for this match, Jacques is maybe the better option. It’s not about Chucky’s yellow card against the Pumas, as we just opted for Jacques in this match.”
15 Clayton Blommetjies 14 Malcolm Jaer 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg 12 Frans Steyn 11 Rosko Specman 10 Tian Schoeman 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain) 8 Jasper Wiese 7 Junior Pokomela 6 Andisa Ntsila 5 Walt Steenkamp 4 Carl Wegner 3 Luan de Bruin 2 Reinach Venter 1 Charles Marais.
Bench: 16 Jacques du Toit 17 Boan Venter 18 Erich de Jager 19 JP du Preez 20 Aidon Davis 21 Chris Massyn 22 Tian Meyer 23 William Small-Smith.