Ludeke well aware of threat Cheetahs pose
HAVING had a week off to survey the Super Rugby landscape and their next opponents, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was eminently qualified to run the rule over the in-form Cheetahs yesterday.
A record five wins on the trot have elevated the Cheetahs to nearfavourites at Loftus on Saturday, and Ludeke does not need to be made aware of the threat.
“They are dangerous from broken play. They’ve scored 11 tries from broken play (this season). When teams make mistakes they are accurate (at converting),” he said.
The Cheetahs are equally good without the ball. “Their reaction speed to ball carrier is very good. They make their first-time tackles and that puts you under pressure.”
Ludeke will need seasoned heads to combat the threat, and he opted to bolster his starting XV with lock Flip van der Merwe and right wing Akona Ndungane. Van der Merwe comes in for Paul Willemse, while Jurgen Visser moves to fullback in place of the injured Zane Kirchner.
There is still no Francois Hougaard, as he has yet to shrug off his ankle injury. “It’s a small injury to his ankle but nothing is torn. He needs a bit more time to play painfree,” explained Ludeke.
As back-up to Jano Vermaak, Rudy Paige could earn his first cap off the bench. Ludeke also made a tactical switch at tighthead, where Frik Kirsten replaces Werner Kruger, but Morné Mellet, who drew unwelcome attention from the referees on tour, retained his place.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is usually patient with players and the media, but the strain of four losses in six outings has started to show.
Coetzee snapped at the media pack on Monday when asked why flyhalf Burton Francis’s contract was not extended, and yesterday he axed scrumhalf Nic Groom after he singlehandedly cost the Stormers the game against the Cheetahs.
Francis kicked the winning penalty for the Cheetahs last weekend to respond to his removal from Newlands in the best way he could, but two Groom errors led to two Cheetahs tries. There was no hiding from it and Coetzee, while still not berating Groom in public, let his selections do the talking.
Dewaldt Duvenage, who was surprisingly omitted against the Cheetahs, will start at scrumhalf this week, with flyhalf Gary van Aswegen making his first Super Rugby start in more than a year. With Craig Ray