Opposition View: Cheetahs

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Ahead of Cardiff Blues facing Cheetahs on Saturday evening at the Arms Park, Cheetahs super fan @DjRossouw87 answers some questions on the Currie Cup winning opponents.

The Cheetahs’ Currie Cup side had a superb season and ended up lifting the trophy, how much momentum did that give the Pro14 team coming into this season?

There was huge momentum that the Currie Cup squad brought into the Pro14 squad. 98% of the Currie Cup squad started playing in the first few Pro14 games. Only Rhyno Smith, Anthony Volmink, Wilmar Arnoldi, Sias Koen and George Whitehead were not involved with the Cheetahs during Curtie Cup.

There was huge belief in the squad around coming from behind to win games. Cheetahs won games, especially two, from being far behind and just out-playing teams at the end of the second half. The squad created an winning culture from that.

Franco Smith is leaving the Cheetahs after the first few games of the season, how much of an impact has that early change in coaches had?

Franco Smith is still involved at Cheetahs until end of this month as Director of Rugby. One change I can see is that Franco used a 6/2 bench split during his time, whereas new Head Coach Hawies Fourie is sticking to a 5/3 split on the bench.

What I have also picked up is Hawies Fourie believes in not running from our own try line to score tries. He believes in putting pressure on in defence, tactical kicking and playing with the forwards in the wet European conditions. It’s still a bit early to say what will happen on dry pitches in Bloemfontein.

Time will tell. I think he will make small changes in off-field and in-game plan play. We may only see those changes later on in the season due to him starting later.

Willis Halaholo Cheetahs 4

Cheetahs’ away record in Europe has been quite poor since joining the Pro14, how important is starting to win away from home for the team?

In my view winning overseas is so important. Not winning against Zebre or Dragons but winning against better quality teams away is important if Cheetahs ever want to be considered title contenders.

We can make playoffs on winning at home and winning two overseas games but really to be title contenders we must be winning overseas more consistently. The two losses against Connacht and Scarlets, Cheetahs could have won them both. It shows Cheetahs are pushing teams harder away than in the past, I have got a feeling away wins are not far away.

Cheetahs biggest problem is playing in windy and wet weather conditions that there are not a lot of in South Africa. If Cheetahs start winning more away then they will be real title contenders.

Who has been the standout player so far for Cheetahs this season?

If you go by the first five games then I will definitely say Rhyno Smith. He is the league’s leading try scoring player. But I will say Ruan Pienaar who has made a huge impact since joining Cheetahs for Currie Cup and his experience in Pro14 is a big help.

Finally, what is your prediction for the game on Saturday?

Cheetahs and Cardiff Blues games are always close home and way. Honestly, if Cheetahs play like we can, adapt to weather and can stop the Wales returning players at Cardiff, Cheetahs could win. Close game, but Cheetahs by 3-5.

Thanks again to DJ ahead of what will no doubt be another close game between the two teams at the Arms Park.

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