Currie Cup

Cheetahs want to set the pace

2015-08-06 06:54
Franco Smith (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The opposition will have to dance to the beat of the Free State Cheetahs’ drum if coach Franco Smith has it his way in this year’s Currie Cup competition.

“In the years to come we want to be a really good outfit, so we want to do as well as we can in every game we play,” Smith said in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

“We must make sure that we determine the standard, they need to adapt to what we are doing and that would give us confidence going forward.”

The former Springbok flyhalf will have no bigger test than when a new-look Blue Bulls side travel to Bloemfontein for their Currie Cup opener on Saturday for some payback.

In only his second Super Rugby match in charge, Smith’s underrated Cheetahs side claimed their first victory over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in the final match of the season.

The Bulls should have a different look to them with the appointment of Nollis Marais as their mentor for the Currie Cup campaign.

Smith said the 42-29 victory over the Bulls bolstered his side's confidence but he was under no illusions that the Pretoria side will pose a different threat to his charges this time around.

“There will definitely be something different from them but they will stick with certain qualities where I believe they will still carry the ball with their physical and big players,” Smith said.

“They will certainly make a mind-set shift, I’ve seen Nollis Marais and David Manuel coaching in the Varsity Cup and they have a look-to-play approach.

“There will be more passes in their game, and they will play with more freedom after they were forced into a building phase.”

Meanwhile, Smith tried to keep some continuity with his team selection with only a few players from that final Super Rugby match in the starting XV for Saturday.

He surprised with the selection of flyhalf Niel Marais ahead of new signing Fred Zeilinga from the Sharks.

Marais hardly put a foot wrong since he made his debut for the Cheetahs in the penultimate round of Super Rugby against the Waratahs.

“Neil played well, he didn’t do anything not to be selected, he is a player developing well and some continuity is necessary in the first week,” Smith explained.

“Everybody in the squad will be utilised this season but it is good to have some continuity and his verbal skills are exceptional and that is what we are going to need.”


Free State Cheetahs:

15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen

Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 BG Uys, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Fred Zeilinga

Blue Bulls:



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