Willie le Roux
Determined to deliver
Sport24 columnist Willie le Roux (File)
See the Cheetahs prepare for their Super Rugby match against the Blues.
It was a very disappointing defeat to the Stormers at Newlands this past Saturday. We simply didn’t stick to our gameplan and failed to produce the performance we know we are capable of as a team.
We just didn’t pitch up for the match and for some reason a break in the season doesn’t seem to suit us. We lacked intensity and our discipline let us down - the number of penalties we conceded was indicative of this.
With such a key match ahead this weekend, from a psychological perspective it’s crucial to learn lessons, but move on quickly from defeat. As a side, we view the Blues match this Saturday as one of four potential 'finals'.
I believe that in order to be successful at the business end of the season, we must employ the same type of rugby, which has proved fruitful for us thus far. It’s important not to put ourselves under pressure and first and foremost, we need to enjoy ourselves out on the field.
From a personal point of view, I have really been relishing my rugby of late. I feel that 2013 has proved my breakthrough season owing to the fact that I represented the Springboks in all three of the June Tests.
While I wouldn’t describe myself as having the X-factor - whether I have No 15 or 14 on my back - I love coming into the flyhalf channel to attack the gain line and to create space for the players on my outside.
While we will continue to employ our attacking brand of rugby, we are also well aware that our defence needs to tighten up considerably against a dangerous Blues backline.
Although we slipped up against the Stormers, our defence has proved one of the cornerstones of our success this season and we are determined to put in a committed effort this Saturday.
The men from Auckland boast a number of game breakers in their side - most notably Rene Ranger. The All Black is dangerous with ball in hand and has a real turn of pace. I have worked hard on my defence this season and enjoy testing myself against the world’s best week-in and week-out.
The Blues are a pacy side and possess strong ball carriers. We therefore need to pin them in their own half and defend solidly. They are a team unafraid to run from their own 22 and as such, I don’t expect them to do much kicking this Saturday.
If our defence is top-notch, then the Blues will make mistakes in their own half, which we can capitalise on. I don’t feel we should employ more of a kicking game - I believe we should rather stick to the structures that have worked well for us all season.
The main message from our coaching staff this week is to up our intensity and take the game to the Blues and not allow them to dictate the tempo of play.
While the Bulls have wrapped up top spot in the South African conference, the Sharks and Stormers are now quite close behind us, which makes it exciting for the viewing public.
We have never made the playoffs before so this Saturday we will give our all to achieve this objective. It’s exciting times for the Cheetahs and we will embrace the challenge.
Le Roux debuted for the Cheetahs during the 2012 Super Rugby season. Follow him on Twitter @wjjleroux
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