Cheetahs prepared for Kiwi run

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:56

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Cheetahs coach Franco Smith believes there was plenty of value in giving a host of fringe players a run in Buenos Aires last week.

The Cheetahs lost 14-41 - their second defeat in four rounds, after the 25-28 loss to the Lions in Week One.

However, Smith - speaking to rugby365 ahead of their Round Five encounter with the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday - felt the defeat will no bearing on their season.

"It is only round four," the Cheetahs coach said.

"Yes, we wanted to win in Buenos Aires, but it was always going to be a tough travel week," he said of a venture that included two 16-hour trips (from Johannesburg to Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo and the reverse after the game) - which saw them travel nine hours from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, with a stop-over of more than three hours, followed by another three-hour flight to Buenos Aires.

"I had to look at the next few games in totality.

"A bunch of guys got exposure [at Super Rugby level]," he said of the loss in Buenos Aires, adding: "We now play the Sharks [in Bloemfontein] and Stormers [in CapeTown], then we have a bye, before we face all the New Zealand teams and the Bulls in consecutive weeks.

"It is going to be vital that we can rely on our dept.

"Now I know who are capable of playing at this level.

"Some of those players were also exposed to travelling and they would have learnt not to be disturbed by the week's events and still play well on the Saturday.

"It is important to have that experience."

After this Saturday's encounter with the Sharks, the Cheetahs travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers.

They then have a bye, after which their Kiwi run starts - the Chiefs in Bloemfontein, the Bulls in Pretoria, the Crusaders in Bloemfontein, the Highlanders in Bloemfontein, the Blues in Auckland and the Hurricanes in Wellington.

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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