Super Rugby preview: Cheetahs

biltongbek Roar Guru

By biltongbek, biltongbek is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger


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    The most anticipated and welcome news for any Cheetah and Juan Smith supporter is the fact that he makes his return to the Cheetahs Super Rugby squad for 2013 after more than a year out of any form of competitive rugby.

    Specialist fetcher Heinrich Brussow is also back and fully fit for the tournament ahead. Johan Goosen does not need any corrective surgery on the heel that has given him some trouble after his return from his midseason shoulder injury in 2012. Coenie Oosthuizen is also back from injury.

    Although they lost nearly their entire second row, the Cheetahs have found some quality replacements. The loss of WP Nel might haunt them for the season, it must be said though that Trevor Nyakane has impressed during the Currie Cup and I am full of hope he will become an integral part of the Cheetah front row.

    In the backs, the return of Sarel Pretorius will certainly lift the unpredictability of the Cheetah attack, but he will be under some pressure as Piet van Zyl just got better and better during the 2012 Currie Cup.

    Johan Goosen is obviously the man most are interested in, as he showed much promise last year in a season riddled with injury. Nobody will look forward to playing alongside Goosen more than Johann Sadie, who was starved of rugby during his season at the Bulls last year.

    The Cheetahs have always played the most entertaining rugby of all the South African franchises, however their defence has also been their weakest attribute for some time now.

    I expect the Cheetah backline to once again be up there when it comes to try scoring and with players such as Goosen, Sadie, Willie Le Roux and speedster Raymond Rhule in the backline they will be very dangerous indeed.

    It is the back row of the Cheetahs that I look forward to most of all, Heinrich Brussow, Smith and Frans Viljoen could possibly be one of the form back rows of the tournament.

    So how will they go in Super Rugby 2013?

    Going on their recent history the Cheetahs are not afraid to travel, their successes against foreign teams over the past two seasons of Super Rugby is well documented. The challenge for them will be to gain more log points against their opponents in the local derbies, the only reason they didn’t make the play offs last year.

    They should have no trouble to gain 10 log points from the Kings, not with a fully fit team, and that should be their aim. Then win two of their other three home games against the Bulls, Sharks or Stormers.

    I expect them to do one better than last year, in with an outside chance of making the play offs as long as injuries don’t play a significant role in their season, as their squad depth has always been a problem.

    The Cheetahs’ biggest challenge has always been how to hold on to star players, and considering the number of players they lost last year continuity will always be a factor.

    Ultimately the biggest question is whether head coach Naka Drotske will be able to get his team to play as a collective.


    Props: Trevor Nyakane, Caylib Oosthuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Rossouw de Klerk and Lourens Adriaanse.
    Hookers: Adriaan Strauss, Ryno Barnes and Hercu Liebenberg.
    Locks: Lood de Jager, Andries Ferreira, Ligtoring Landman and Francois Uys.
    Flanks: Juan Smith, Frans Viljoen, Heinrich Brüssow, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Phillip van der Walt and Davon Raubenheimer.
    Scrumhalves: Piet van Zyl, Sarel Pretorius and Tewis de Bruyn.
    Flyhalves: Johan Goosen, Elgar Watts and Francois Brummer.
    Centres: Robert Ebersohn, Johann Sadie and Barry Geel.
    Wings: Rayno Benjamin, Rocco Jansen and Raymond Rhule.
    Fullbacks: Hennie Daniller and Willie le Roux.
    Utility Backs: Riaan Smit and Hansie Graaff.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • February 9th 2013 @ 7:43am
      nickoldschool said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      Very nice team indeed. So good to see Smith and Brussow, apparently, fit. My take on the van zyl/Pretorius situation is that Sarel might be used on the wing this year if the van zyl- Goosen combination works well.

      For me, they are the chiefs (until last year) of SA, great positive rugby played but often missing something to really be a contender. Hope they click and stay injury free.

      • February 10th 2013 @ 1:19am
        Hightackle said | February 10th 2013 @ 1:19am | ! Report

        Nobody is the Chiefs of anywhere!!!!

        The mighty Chiefs have no equal!

      • Roar Rookie

        February 10th 2013 @ 1:28pm
        Neuen said | February 10th 2013 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

        I think they are more like the Canes. They like to give the ball air and can score from anywhere but have a few holes in their defense as well. Anyone remember the game between them and the Canes last year? Was one of the games of the tournament.

    • February 10th 2013 @ 8:12pm
      Suzy Poison said | February 10th 2013 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

      Biltong I love the passion in this article. Everyone loves the Cheetahs for the way they play. It’s entertaining rugby, and I wish the Boks sometimes played with the same adventure.
      But I don’t know how to say this nicely….It’s not a winning formula.
      The Cheetahs will end 4th in SA conference, about lower mid table again. They will surprise a few teams, but depth will cruel them again. And I hope I am wrong.

      Did you see the Bulls Cheetahs warmup? By all account Hougard is looking very dangerous for Bulls.

      • Roar Guru

        February 11th 2013 @ 9:49am
        biltongbek said | February 11th 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        Hi Suzy, yeah the Cheetahs will always be up against it, and although it isn’t a winning formula them, it could be for the Boks as Meyer if astute can make the right calls on selection.

        I think the biggest lesson we can take from the Cheetahs is the fact that South Africans can play running rugby, it is our coaching and mentality at international level that inhibits our play.

        I said last year, if Hougaard is allowed to play his own game he can be great, lets see what happens this year.

    • Roar Guru

      February 11th 2013 @ 9:27am
      Rusty said | February 11th 2013 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      Love the spirit of the Cheetahs – definitely one of my favourite teams after my own Stormers. They will be dangerous on attack but ..if they dont plug the holes then they are going to find themselves in the bottom half of the log

    • February 11th 2013 @ 4:17pm
      TembaVJ said | February 11th 2013 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

      Rusty, if you attack for 80 mins of the game you don’t need good defence! 🙂

      Cheetahs are my dark horse for the season, I expect them to be in the top halve and might make the finals.

      4 more sleeps to go… it feels like ages since I have opened a beer, chopped some biltong and bummed down in front of the TV for 8 hours a weekend!

      One thing about super rugby, it always holds a couple of surprises.

      That and Spiro’s monday morning rants

    • February 11th 2013 @ 9:46pm
      chris said | February 11th 2013 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

      They’ll struggle again, but I think they will improve over next couple of years.

      The cheetahs are very reliant on Goosen, Smith, Brussouw and Strauss staying fit and if past seasons are anything to go by they will be without these guys for large portion of the season. Behind these guys Oosthuizen, Willie Le Roux, Rhule and Piet van Zyl are also very impressive players. Also keep an eye out for Hansie Graaf. The problem for the cheetahs are that the rest of the team isn’t quite good enough.

      The reason for optimism is that they seem to have changed their contracting policy, getting rid of players that will never quite be good enough and bringing in young guys with a bit of promise. It’ll take a couple of years, and a change in coach, but the future could is bright.

    • Roar Guru

      February 12th 2013 @ 11:29am
      Dasher said | February 12th 2013 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      What about the Cheetahs’ tight five? Never hear too much about them apart from Strauss.

      • Roar Guru

        February 12th 2013 @ 9:33pm
        biltongbek said | February 12th 2013 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

        Dasher, the ir tight five is essentially new.

        Only Struass and Oosthuizen are regulars. Both very good. Nyakane played in the currie Cup last year and looked very good, the locks combinations are all new as the Cheetahs lost 4 of their secondrowers to europe as well as WP Nel their prop from last year.

        So it will be interesting to see how they go.

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2013 @ 2:54pm
          Dasher said | February 15th 2013 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

          I thoroughly disliked when Pretorius went to the Waratahs. It was at a point where the Cheetahs were looking to build on a very commendable 2011 and now, in 2013, the iron might have cooled off a bit.

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