Vodacom Super Rugby
Defence Cheetahs' 'problem'
Kimberley – Three years on and still the same defensive pattern.
That, as far as former Springbok, Free State and Sharks prop Ollie le Roux is concerned, is the biggest problem with the Cheetahs' Vodacom Super Rugby team.
The Cheetahs lost 21-24 to the Highlanders in the last match of their Australasian tour at the weekend. Le Roux believes the loss could have been averted had the team’s defensive pattern not been so predictable.
“The defensive pattern is the Cheetahs’ big problem. It is sad and at the same time frustrating that they have followed the same pattern since Naka Drotské was appointed coach three years ago. Nothing has changed,” said Le Roux.
Drotské said after the defeat that the problem was not the defensive pattern, but rather with individuals whose man-on-man defence left much to be desired.
Le Roux, however, believes that it’s the Cheetahs playing pattern rather than individuals that needs to come right.
“I watched the game against the Highlanders. There is not much wrong with the players’ commitment on defence. There is not one of them that did not give 100% on defence. After all, a player plays the way he is coached – therefore the fault has to be found with the coaching staff,” said Le Roux.
The Cheetahs’ task on defence will not be getting any easier now that they are on home soil.
They take on the Hurricanes on Saturday night and the New Zealand outfit is loaded with gamebreakers, including All Black centre Ma’a Nonu. They can therefore give the home side major headaches on defence.
“Everybody knows how high the level is in Super Rugby. We know the overseas opponents are very good on attack. One mistake on defence means that it’s five points for your opponent,” said Le Roux.
Notwithstanding the defeat to the Highlanders, the Cheetahs still fared a lot better on tour than they did the last few years and the win over the Waratahs should give them confidence.
“The team is back in South Africa. They can still play rugby that makes supporters proud. But the defensive pattern needs to improve. That is non-negotiable,” said Le Roux.