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
“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