Cheetahs wings out to impress
Bloemfontein – The one is a veteran who has made his mark in France and the other a Super Rugby rookie, but the Cheetahs’ wings can both stake their claim for greater involvement in 2011 with good performances against the Brumbies on Friday night.
While Philip Burger and Riaan (True Blue) Smit will work together to try and beat the Australians, their individual performances may provide a pointer as to who may be used in the future.
Smit is only featuring in the starting line-up for the second time in his career, but has improved to such an extent that he can put Burger under pressure with another good performance.
Smit scored two tries – one of them with an intercept - in the Cheetahs’ last match against the Hurricanes. Having turned 27 on Thursday, Smit will be out to grab another try or two as a birthday gift.
Burger will want to show in the Free State Stadium that it was worthwhile to bring him back from French club Perpignan. His pace makes him an asset for any team.
However, he has struggled with injuries this year and it appears as if his defence is a weakness.
Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie said that Smit had used his opportunity.
“Riaan played well against the Hurricanes. It would have been a difficult choice between him and Philip Burger had Rayno Benjamin (hamstring injury) been fit. It would not have been a given that Philip would have been in the side,” said Fourie.
Benjamin is expected to return against the Lions next week. Burger and Smit can therefore create a selection poser with good performances against the Brumbies.
Smit made his debut as a substitute in the team’s last overseas tour game against the Highlanders. He then got his chance as wing against the Hurricanes following the injury to Benjamin.
The utility back, who can also play fullback and flyhalf, is also delighted with the game time.
“I was disappointed at the beginning of the season when the Cheetahs’ first squad was read out and my name did not appear. You had to go back to the Vodacom Cup and use your opportunities there,” he said.
Smit was of course satisfied with his performance against the Hurricanes.
“I was a little nervous before the game because I’m not a natural wing. But I got an opportunity, the ball bounced well and the guys inside me did their jobs well.”
Smit is not concerned about which position he plays. He says his team-mates at the back are creating enough space for him to be able to finish.
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Philip Burger, 13 Robert
Ebersohn, 12 Corne Uys, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel
Pretorius, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5
Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17
Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Leon Karemaker, 20 Tewis de
Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Hennie Daniller
Pat McCabe, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Matt Giteau
(captain), 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Pat Phibbs, 8
Colby Faingaa, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4
Peter Kimlin, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Jono Owen, 18 Ben Hand, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Tyrone Smith, 22 Robbie Coleman