Super Rugby preview: Cheetahs
Cape Town - Can Currie Cup form translate into Super Rugby success?
Judging by the Lions' display in 2016, it can. Johan Ackermann's men had cruised to the Currie Cup title in 2015 and then progressed to the Super Rugby final last year.
Can the Cheetahs replicate that in 2017? They went unbeaten through last year's Currie Cup and are certainly on a high.
The Free Staters have not delivered in Super Rugby since they made the playoffs back in 2013.
They won just four of their 15 matches with defence once again their biggest problem. Things will be even tougher this year, fixture-wise, as the Cheetahs must tackle the Kiwi sides in regular season.
They have lost Lood de Jager to the Bulls, but other than that they have held onto most of their bigger names.
It would be easy to go with captain Francois Venter, while prop Ox Nche is another big player. But, for us, the Cheetas need somebody to do the hard yards up front on both attack and defence; a workhorse who provides a physicality that can turn this Cheetahs pack into a real threat. That man is Oupa Mohoje. It was a big Springbok year for the loose forward and he will be as motivated as ever to prove that he belongs in the green and gold. With his heavy hits and strong running, Mohoje could easily be the Cheetahs' most important player this year.
Not much to talk about here. The Cheetahs have bolstered their flyhalf department with the arrivals of Ryno Elsteen and Clinton Swart while prop Tom Botha joins from the Kings. That has been the only incoming activity so far.
De Jager, obviously. He has been a key man at the Cheetahs since 2013 but he needed a fresh challenge and the Bulls are better off for it.
February 25: Lions (h)
March 4: Bulls (h)
March 11: Sunwolves (h)
March 18: Jaguares (a)
March 25: Sharks (h)
April 1: Stormers (a)
April 8: BYE
April 15: Chiefs (h)
April 22: Bulls (a)
April 29: Crusaders (h)
May 5: Highlanders (h)
May 12: Blues (a)
May 20: Hurricanes (a)
May 27: Sunwolves (a)
July 1: Stormers (h)
July 8: BYE
July 14: Kings (a)