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

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 27 May 2017
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 05h15 Tokyo
Highlanders v Waratahs 07h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Crusaders 09h45 Melbourne
Bulls v Hurricanes 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13h30 London
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Kings Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h15 Dublin
Jaguares v Brumbies 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 12h30 Ellis Park Stadium
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
Lions v Bulls 51 | 14
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 18 | 16
Sunwolves v Sharks 17 | 38
Force v Highlanders 6 | 55
Hurricanes v Cheetahs 61 | 7
Fri, 19 May 2017
Leinster v Scarlets 15 | 27
Stormers v Blues 30 | 22
Chiefs v Crusaders 24 | 31
Sat, 13 May 2017
Jaguares v Force 6 | 16
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 11 4 0 7 23
Waratahs 11 4 0 7 19
Force 12 4 0 8 17
Reds 12 3 0 9 16
Rebels 11 1 1 9 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 12 0 0 54
Chiefs 12 9 1 2 45
Hurricanes 11 9 0 2 43
Highlanders 12 9 0 3 41
Blues 13 6 1 6 33
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 11 7 0 4 30
Bulls 11 3 0 8 15
Cheetahs 12 2 0 10 11
Sunwolves 11 1 0 10 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 11 0 1 51
Sharks 12 8 1 3 38
Jaguares 11 5 0 6 24
Kings 11 4 0 7 19