Vodacom Super Rugby
Venter advice helped Cheetahs
Bloemfontein – A finely planned strategy and the advice of former Springbok Brendan Venter helped the Cheetahs to shut down
All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams on Saturday.
The home side put the giant centre under pressure from the word go through centres Barry Geel and Robert Ebersohn, as well as No 8 Ashley Johnson in their 33-20 Vodacom Super Rugby victory.
Williams did not emerge for the second half due to a knee injury, but not before the Cheetahs showed the Springboks how the professional boxer can be neutralised at the 2011 World Cup.
Venter wrote about the Williams-factor in his column for Sport24 last week and Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie took it on board.
Among the former Saracens coach’s observations were that Williams is not a traditional New Zealand inside centre and that he probably lacks pace. Venter also believes that Williams’s normal passing game is not good and that he will have less of an impact if his opponents exploit his weaknesses.
“Brendan wrote that the outside centre or player outside Sonny Bill Williams is actually the danger man. We definitely learned something from that,” said Fourie.
“Naka (Drotské, Cheetahs head coach) and Michael (Horak, defence coach) played with and under Brendan. You know he can be trusted, especially on the subject of defence.”
Fourie also revealed the Cheetahs’ special plan for Williams.
“Michael instituted a plan whereby Ashley would come out at the lineouts and rush in on Sonny Bill from the outside. He did not hit him hard every time, but the Crusaders had to change their plan. It definitely disrupted them,” he said.
“As far as the centres were concerned, we constantly nailed the guy next to Sonny Bill. If Sonny Bill was Barry Geel’s man on defence, the other players trusted him.”