Ollie le Roux admits the Cheetahs will start as underdogs against the Crusaders in their Vodacom Super 14 match on Saturday, but believes they will provide tough opposition.
With limited attacking options out wide, the Cheetahs have based their game plan around their massive forward pack. The driving maul has worked well for the Bloem Boys this season and their loose forwards have enjoyed bashing it up.
The Cheetahs front row has been cleverly rotated during matches by coach Rassie Erasmus, although his options have been limited after CJ van der Linde broke his leg during a Sydney training session.
However, one prop who doesn’t look like slowing down is Le Roux, who’s been used effectively as an impact player in the second half.
“Playing the Crusaders is the ultimate test in this tournament and we know it’ll be tough,” Le Roux told keo.co.za. “They have a great forward pack and dangerous backs, but the guys are looking forward to the challenge. If we can compete up front – and there’s no reason why we can’t – then we’ll have a chance.”
The Cheetahs front row that started against the Brumbies collectively weighed 354kg, and the Crusaders have predictably been talking up the South African fat boys.
“They have a humungous front row and their scrum has been going really well. They haven’t been pushed around at all,” Crusaders lock Ross Filipo told the New Zealand media. “Their defensive line-out is probably one of the best in the competition and they win most of their own ball. We have to be very clinical this week and make sure we are shifting bodies and not letting them get down and get set.”
Erasmus has made four changes to the side that lost to the Brumbies for the Christchurch fixture.
Gaffie du Toit returns to the left wing, with Falie Oelshig and Willem de Waal wearing the No 9 and 10 jerseys respectively. Eddie Fredericks also comes back into the team, replacing Giscard Pieters on the right wing.
De Waal’s presence at flyhalf suggests the Cheetahs will look to play 10-man rugby, a policy that could backfire against a team that tries to keep the ball in hand.
Cheetahs team to play Crusaders:
15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Barry Goodes, 11 Gaffie du Toit, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Frans Viljoen, 7 Ockie van Zyl, 6 Ryno van der Merwe (c), 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 Corniel van Zyl, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Os du Randt.
Subs: 16 Ollie le Roux, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Gareth Krause, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Sinethemba Zweni.
By Simon Borchardt