Bloemfontein - Cheetahs wing Cornal Hendricks says a victory over the Lions in Johannesburg would give the team a much-needed confidence boost.
The Cheetahs started the Super Rugby campaign on a positive note. They shocked the Sharks 35-29 in their tournament opener in Durban, and edged the Blues 25-24 at Free State Stadium.
However, the men from Bloemfontein have experienced a drop in form since then, losing six of their last seven fixtures, including a disappointing 18-17 defeat against the Reds at home last weekend.
They now set their focus on the clash against the Lions on Saturday. Hendricks believes that a victory in this weekend’s South African Super Rugby derby could be a turning point for the Cheetahs.
“The loss against the Reds last weekend was a big blow, but the boys are determined to carry on and return to winning ways,” Hendricks told MyPlayers.co.za.
“The Lions are playing good brand of attacking rugby... the type of game plan we like to play, so it’s going to be an exciting match this weekend.
“We’ll need to build momentum on attack, and be effective on defence. We need to make hard tackles, win the battle at the gain line and get the upper hand at the breakdown. If we can win those battles on the field, we’ll put ourselves in a very good position.”
While the Cheetahs will be hoping to complete a strong run during the second half of the Super Rugby campaign, Hendricks is also focused on playing his way back into the Springbok team.
He enjoyed an impressive 2014 international season, playing 11 Tests and scoring five tries. The 27-year-old hopes he can do enough to retain his place in the squad.
“I enjoyed the 2014 season very much. There are many highlights to look back to. I gained a lot of experience, and have become a better player because of my time at Test level,” said Hendricks.
“I have to admit, it’s been a bit frustrating at times during Super Rugby this season as I had more opportunities with the ball last year. However, I’ll be focusing on the areas where I can contribute more to the team, like increasing my work-rate off the ball.
“My goals for the season is to score as many tries for the Cheetahs as possible and play my way into the Springbok squad for the World Cup.”
Saturday’s duel between the Cheetahs and Lions kicks off at 17:05.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Robert Kruger, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Howard Mnisi
15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveldt, 1 Danie Minnie
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greeff, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Michael van der Spuy, 23 Clayton Blommetjies
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