Cheetahs welcome back big guns
HAD it not been for their participation in the Guinness Pro14, the Cheetahs could have long confirmed their spot in the Currie Cup semifinals.
By the time the Pro14 started, the Cheetahs were top of the Currie Cup standings – but since then their domestic form has dipped after missing key players due to their European journey.
The Cheetahs had been a fearless formation in the Currie Cup, beating the Sharks, Western Province, Pumas, Blue Bulls and Golden Lions, losing just once to Griquas.
A things stand, the Cheetahs are third on the log with 31 points and need a big performance against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg tomorrow if they are to make the top four.
And thanks to their lucky stars, the Free State side has no Pro 14 responsibilities in the next two weeks, meaning they can select their top guns for the clash.
Without needing a second invitation, Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan and director of rugby Franco Smith selected a strong lineup that will be led by experienced captain Torsten van Jaarsveld.
Top players like Boks loose forward Oupa Mohoje and winger Raymond Rhule have been named in the starting team, while Makazole Mapimpi and Rosko Specman will be the players to watch.
“This is an extremely important game for the Cheetahs. We will be pushing as hard as we can to get results,” Duncan said.
The race for the semis starts at 7pm tonight when the Blue Bulls host the Pumas at Loftus Versfeld. IT IS always to the benefit of the PSL in the greater scheme of things and a great advert for South African football whenever Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs both at full strength meet.
This time around though, Sundowns seem to be clear favourites for the game on Tuesday as their attack is in top shape, while the Chiefs’ defence is shaky.
Apart from Khama Billiat, the Brazilians will welcome back Themba Zwane, Percy Tau and Sibusiso Vilakazi, who all scored for Bafana Bafana on Saturday.
Chiefs are expected to be without Lorenzo Gordinho, while Mulomowandau Mathoho is doubtful, with Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Tsepo Masilela also unavailable.
While Downs are on a high, Chiefs have something to gain inspiration from, having won the Macufe Cup last weekend.
Heading into Tuesday’s game at Loftus Versfeld stadium, Billiat does not think getting three points will be easy, but reckons playing alongside teammates who turned out for Bafana will make the Brazilians even stronger.
“They have always been better players even before we started playing together. And us now playing together will make us even better. We just have to up our total effort,” Billiat said.
“We would like to be dangerous. If we are, then we will be something else for Chiefs to face.
“It will be one of the best games of the season for our supporters to enjoy. But they too have great players, like (Siphiwe) Tshabalala.
“It is an important for every individual playing for the club, for its history.
“But Chiefs are a good team. We will have to work hard, watch all their videos and look at how they are doing. We want to do even better, get to where we are used to and get all our confidence going.”
Meanwhile, the Brazilians will today announce their new three-year partnership with car manufacturer Hyundai.
FANCY FOOTWORK: Cheetahs’ utility back Rosko Specman.
CLASSY APPROACH: Downs forward Khama Billiat.