Big defeat no measure of Cheetahs' status

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 15:43
Large cheetahs at vic falls 800

REACTION: The Cheetahs may have started their pre-season matches with a big loss, but that is no measure of their ability to compete in Super Rugby this year.

The Currie Cup champions, the Cheetahs, suffered a 7-43 loss to the Stormers in a South African double-header in Harare at the weekend.

The cynics would suggest it is an indication the Cheetahs could be in for a long season and are way off the pace required for Super Rugby.

However, Cheetahs coach Franco Smith said nothing could be further from the truth.

With no major injuries, he came away from the match with plenty of answers to some of his most pressing pre-season posers.

Game time for players is top of his agenda.

"If you have a look at the squad, those were all players who have not played in a very long time," Smith told rugby365.

"There is no club rugby in Bloemfontein during the Super Rugby season, which means since June the bulk of these players had no game time whatsoever.

"As an example, Danie Mienie played 20 minutes in a pre-season warm-up match last year, before suffering a shoulder injury. Before that, his last rugby was for Griquas in 2015.

"That is just one player," the coach said, adding: "If you go through the game time of each player the last six months, then you will realise that is why the purpose of this match was  to get the players back into our system."

Smith said they worked very hard in pre-season and beating the Stormers was not a priority.

"The Stormers clearly had more intensity and of all four teams in Harare [which also saw the Bulls beat the Lions] they were the sharpest.

"We clearly had different objectives than the Stormers," he told rugby365, adding: "My main goal was that if we suffer injuries during the season I need to know which players can step up against the big guns in Super Rugby.

"I said I wanted to build a strong squad of 54 players, so I can't just pay lip service to that statement.

"Because the Currie Cup was important to us and we wanted to perform, I had to work with a slightly smaller squad last year.

"That is why the pre-season is being used to develop our depth.

"We need to ensure that if we must make changes, it doesn't influence the performance of the team."

Apart from the minutes against the Stormers, the Cheetahs will also have two teams playing against the Sharks on Friday and, according to Smith, that is the 200 minutes that are available to him to trial his players.

"I want to, as far as possible, see where the players are and how they are adapting in terms of fitting into our system.

"After these games, we have just under a month to prepare for the season.

"It would be a major mistake to read something into the result [against the Stormers in Harare]."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 14h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
Dragons v Scarlets 14h05 Rodney Parade
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Treviso v Zebre 16h00 Stadio Monigo
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 8 5 1 2 24
Rebels 87 4 0 4 21
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 15
Reds 8 3 0 5 13
Sunwolves 8 0 0 8 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 6 0 2 29
Hurricanes 7 6 0 1 27
Chiefs 8 6 0 2 26
Highlanders 7 5 0 2 24
Blues 8 2 0 6 12
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 9 6 0 3 30
Bulls 8 4 0 4 19
Sharks 9 3 1 5 18
Jaguares 9 4 0 5 16
Stormers 9 3 0 6 14