Currie Cup

Cheetahs embrace pressure of a board 'demanding' Currie Cup success

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Hawies Fourie
Hawies Fourie
  • The Cheetahs' board of directors have laid down a marker to the team to show that they're not a second-rate combination in the Currie Cup this season.
  • But mentor Hawies Fourie insists that challenge won't place extra pressure on the franchise, which needs a strong tournament to send out a statement for international competition.
  • Veteran skipper Ruan Pienaar also says the confirmation of a double round structure is a pleasing development.

Still without an international tournament to compete in, the Cheetahs are - at least currently - stuck in the same boat as the Pumas and Griquas in having the Currie Cup as their only platform to showcase their proverbial wares.

It's definitely not the most comforting thought for a franchise that, with due respect, still boasts a superior pedigree and status to its two provincial neighbours.

Unsurprisingly then, Ryno Opperman, the Cheetahs' chairperson, put some pressure on Hawies Fourie and his troops to show they're not a second-rate team during a pre-competition event.

That challenge has been taken to heart.

READ | Is this the man who'll kick-start the traditional Cheetahs try-scoring machine?

"The pressure is always there. Coaches and their players are rightly expected to perform," said Fourie, ahead of their Currie Cup opener against Griquas on Saturday.

"We're not going into this competition just to complete it. We decided on a lofty objective for the Currie Cup as early as February already and we know exactly what we want to achieve. 

"We know this is going to be a tough challenge."

Does that mean the board's "demand" places an extra squeeze on the team?

"Hardly. It comes with the territory," said Fourie.

"You have to embrace it. If anything, the extra attention makes one sharper and better. It's a positive thing for us, it provides direction.

"It gives us comfort and motivation that our directors have the same priorities as us."

There is a disjointed and slightly raw look at the Cheetahs line-up for the central derby, notably at flank, where none of Andisa Ntsila, Oupa Mohoje, Junior Pokomela, Aidon Davis and Jeandre Rudolph are available.

The fact that 2m, 108kg lock Jean Droste is playing on the openside tells a story.

Teams:

Griquas

15 Coyi Banda, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Jay-Cee Nel, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Stefan Ungerer (captain), 8 Hanru Sirgel, 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Jeandre Leonard, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel

Substitutes: 16 HJ Luus, 17 Andrew Kuhn, 18 Janu Botha, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Henco Beukes, 21 Raegan Oranje, 22 Theo Boshoff, 23 Ederies Arendse

Cheetahs

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Tian Meyer, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Gideon van Wyk, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Jean Droste, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Victor Sekekete, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Cameron Dawson

Substitutes: 16 Janus Venter, 17 Alulutho Tsakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Renier Viljoen, 20 Luan Potgieter, 21 Mihlali Mosi, 22 David Brits, 23 Cohen Jasper

However, the competition will be contested over a double round of fixtures, meaning there's ample time for that picture to become rosier.

And that's just the way veteran skipper Ruan Pienaar wants it.

"The Currie Cup is always going to be the bread-and-butter competition of South African rugby. The European teams might have some juggling to do, but we're very grateful for a full, competitive tournament," said the former Springbok scrumhalf.

"It might become physically challenging because of some tight scheduling, but we're really excited."

Kick-off is at 13:00. 

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