You can't afford to take too long
The Cheetahs, much like they did last year, will head to Australasia very early in their 2014 campaign. That is why it is vital that they get off to a winning start.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie said they can't afford a repeat of the losing start that marked their campaign in 2013 - when they had to bounce back from defeats in the first two matches.
An unprecedented three-match winning streak on tour put them back on track and ultimately contributed to the Bloemfontein outfit reaching the play-offs or the first time.
However, they can't afford another 'slow' start, according to Fourie.
"We have just two games at home and then we head abroad," he told this website in an interview ahead of their opening match of the season - against the newly promoted Lions in Bloemfontein this Saturday.
That is followed by another home game, against the Bulls, before they hit the road - where they face the Rebels, Reds, Hurricanes and Blues.
The Cheetahs have a bye in Week Seven and return home to face the two-time defending champion Chiefs in Bloemfontein.
Last year the Cheetahs started with a home loss to the Sharks, before going down heavily to the Chiefs in Hamilton. Victories against the Highlanders, Waratahs and Western Force put their campaign back on track.
"It is vital that we have a couple of victories behind us, before we go on tour," the Cheetahs backline coach told this website.
"You can't afford to take too long before you get some momentum going.
"Every point you drop you can't just make up, because the teams are all good. That is why it is vital to play well from the outset and get your wins at home."
The Cheetahs showed last year that they have the ability to win on tour and, according to Fourie, they are determined to have another good tour.
"However, we start with two home games which are vital to us - it is important to take momentum into the tour."
By Jan de Koning