Cheetahs pack worries ex-Bok
Werner Swanepoel (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Cheetahs' biggest problem is not the absence of "Super-Sarel" but rather a pack of forwards that can dominate, says former Springbok scrumhalf Werner "Smiley" Swanepoel.
Pretorius was one of the leading try scorers (nine tries) in last year's Super Rugby competition and was their key attacking weapon.
But "Super-Sarel", as he was popularly dubbed by some Bloemfontein-based scribes, has since left to play for the Waratahs and his absence was notable as the central franchise lacked spark in their first two games this season.
However, Swanepoel told Volksblad he believes Pretorius's absence is not the main reason for the Cheetahs' early-season struggles.
"Sarel was the top scrumhalf in South Africa last year, and even though they might struggle without him, the big problem is that the Cheetahs' pack looks a bit lightweight for this competition.
"They'll drastically need to do something if they want to start dominating up front in games," said Swanepoel.
The Cheetahs were dominated by the Bulls' pack last week, which led to a humiliating 51-19 score-line. The breakdown area was of specific concern, which put scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn and the backline under immense pressure.
De Bruyn and some senior players received criticism afterwards but Swanepoel believes it's somewhat unfounded.
"I can remember when me and Louis Koen were the Cats' halfback pairing in the early years. If the team won a match, the forwards were praised. When we lost, the halfbacks were blamed. A combination of things went wrong against the Bulls but the Cheetahs' forwards struggled and will definitely have to sharpen up."
Swanepoel said he is happy with the two scrumhalves currently in the Cheetahs squad.
"There's nothing wrong with Tewis or Pieter van Zyl's scrumhalf play. I like Tewis as a player. He always clears the ball quickly and his ball distribution is good.
"Pieter himself looks like a promising player. He likes to attack and could be a factor later in the tournament," said Swanepoel.
The Cheetahs take on the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Pat McCabe, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Ita Vaea, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Ben Hand, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Joseph Toman
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earl, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Trevor Nyakane, 17 Hercu Liebenberg, 18 Davon Raubenheimer, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Rayno Benjamin