Juan: Cheetahs have self-belief
Cape Town - Former Springbok flank Juan Smith believes the Cheetahs have discovered a key missing ingredient they lacked in previous seasons.
The men from Bloemfontein are currently fourth on the overall Super Rugby log
, and trail the Bulls - their next opponents in Bloemfontein on Saturday - by five points in the SA conference.
And Smith, who had to retire earlier this year
due to an ongoing Achilles problem, said in an interview with the Cape Times
that he believes the team is ready to claim a first Super Rugby win over the Bulls.
"The thing that stands out for me is the self-belief of the players. The Cheetahs have always had good individuals and they've always given it their best, but for whatever reason the self-belief just wasn't there. But it's there now," said the former Cheetahs captain.
Smith believes the Cheetahs have grown as a team since winning three games on their Australasian tour. He's been impressed by youngsters such as Trevor Nyakane (prop), Lood de Jager (lock), Lappies Labuschagné (flank), Piet van Zyl (scrumhalf) and a few more.
"I don't want to single out any individuals... the Cheetahs have played well as a unit, the pack is strong and formidable while the backs are exciting going forward and sound in defence."
Smith said the key to winning on Saturday would be discipline, especially with the deadly Morné Steyn amongst the Bulls ranks. Steyn kicked six penalties as the Bulls beat the Sharks 18-16 in Durban last week, despite not scoring a try.
But Smith feels the time is right for his former team to get one over their rivals from up north.
"It's always a big physical battle against the Bulls, so the guys will know what's coming. But if there's one week where I truly believe the Cheetahs will get one over the Bulls it's this week. They're playing winning rugby and, as I've said, the belief is there."
The clash at the Free State Stadium kicks off at 19:10 on Saturday.Teams:Cheetahs:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Ligtoring Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius
, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Rayno BenjaminBulls:
15. Jürgen Visser, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. JJ Engelbrecht
, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Bjorn Basson
, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard
, 8. Pierre Spies
(captain), 7. Arno Botha, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Juandré Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger
, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle
, 1. Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16. Callie Visagie, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Grant Hattingh, 19. Dewald Potgieter
, 20. Jano Vermaak
, 21. Louis Fouché, 22. Zane Kirchner