Rassie keeps rotating
3 Apr 2006
Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus will make several changes to the starting XV that lost to the Waratahs for their Vodacom Super 14 match against the Brumbies on Saturday.
Erasmus made six changes and one positional switch for Sydney and plans to make a similar number for the Canberra clash.
“I want to make full use of all the players we have on tour,” Erasmus told keo.co.za. “We will sit down and decide on the team on Tuesday evening. The Super 14 is such a long competition that you have to rotate players to keep them fresh. Rotation becomes even more important on a four-match overseas tour.”
The Cheetahs are in a respectable sixth position on the log despite their loss to the Waratahs and face a Brumbies side coming off a bye – something that could help the Bloemfontein side.
“People have different views on whether the bye is an advantage or not,” said Erasmus. “Sometimes teams lose momentum when they get the week off, but others come back stronger after the rest. The Brumbies are a great side and we know we’ll have to play very well to beat them.”
In 1997, when the Free State Cheetahs played their only season of Super 12 rugby, they were smashed 50-23 by the Brumbies in Canberra, but Erasmus’s class of 2006 is undoubtably a stronger outfit than their predecessors.
“History counts for nothing on the day,” said Erasmus. “It was very disappointing to lose to the Waratahs, although the guys played with real guts, and we want to put things right. If we’re honest with ourselves we’re just not at their level yet, especially when we play them in Sydney.
“But we didn’t help ourselves either. You can’t afford to play against a quality team with 14 men for 10 minutes [winger Sinethemba Zweni was yellow carded in the 20th minute] and leave a guy like Wendell Sailor unmarked.
“We also had a couple of try-scoring chances early in the game that we should have taken. I’m not saying we would have won the game if we’d scored then, but it could have changed things. One thing I will emphasise to the guys this week, is that if we get ourselves into a try-scoring situation we must make full use of it. That’s the only way you win Super 14 games.”
Unlike the Bulls and Stormers who have a great overseas schedule, the Cheetahs play three potential semi-finalists on tour – the Waratahs, Brumbies and Crusaders. Only their last fixture against the Chiefs on 21 April is one they can realistically expect to win.
“We’re just taking it a game at a time,” said Erasmus. “We try to win every game we play, even if it’s against the best team in the competition.”
By Simon Borchardt