Johannesburg - The Vodacom Cheetahs will pay particular attention to the Reds attacking duo of Will Genia and Quade Cooper when the two sides meet in their Vodacom Super 14 match in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Reds captain Genia and Cooper have been the standout halfback pairing in this year’s Super 14 thus far and have played a massive part in the revival of the Brisbane-based side under coach Ewen McKenzie.
Now being tested in their first outing in South Africa this weekend, the Reds will be looking to continue their upward trend under McKenzie, which has included shock wins over the Crusaders and Chiefs this season.
The Cheetahs have been hit by injuries, losing winger Lionel Mapoe (shoulder), No 8 Frans Viljoen (cheekbone) and fullback Hennie Daniller (kidney) for this weekend’s game and head on tour to Australia and New Zealand next week.
Coach Naka Drotske admitted that while the Cheetahs would look to impress their own game plan against the Reds, they had taken particular note of the form of the halfbacks.
“They are definitely the key to their attack, no doubt about that,” Drotske told Supersport.com, “They base a lot of their attacking plays on their numbers nine and 10, and they execute them very well. The two are the form players of the team in the Super 14, and if we can pressure them into mistakes, we can rattle the Reds.”
Drotske has been impressed with the Reds thus far in the Super 14, especially as they are no longer the bottom feeders of the competition.
“They have been the surprise package this season and have a number of gamebreakers in their side. But they are playing in South Africa now and that puts a whole different bit of pressure on a side like that. They will want the victory, but the pressure will be there for them.”
Drotske knows what the pressure is like – his side need a victory before heading overseas and while they have shown flashes of brilliance this season, they need to be a lot more consistent in their form if they are to make inroads and move up the log as the season gets to the business end.
“We know we need some more consistency,” he admitted, “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves with our performances and against the Stormers, for instance, we made one or two critical mistakes which left us to play catch-up rugby. We didn’t retain two kick-offs that we should have, and one of their tries came from one kick-off.
“If we can cut down on our own mistakes, then we will always have a decent chance of victory.”