Cheetahs fullback Bevin Fortuin believes his side can win their final four Vodacom Super 14 matches and finish in the top half of the table.
The Free Staters play the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday before taking on the Blues and Force in Bloemfontein and the Cats in Kimberley.
The Chiefs are considered to be the weakest New Zealand franchise, while the Cats and Force have been woeful this season. In fact, the Cheetahs toughest remaining fixture could be against the Blues – who have thumped the Bulls, Stormers and Force over the last three weeks.
While the Cheetahs have lost all three of their tour matches so far, Fortuin says the results should be put in context.
“We have played the best three teams in the competition away from home [Waratahs, Brumbies and Crusaders],” he told keo.co.za. “Of course we’re disappointed to have lost those games, but we must also acknowledge the quality of the opposition.
“The Crusaders are the defending champions and have lots of experience, the Waratahs were last year’s finalists, while the Brumbies look like making the semis this year. We are playing our first season of Super 14 rugby and still have a lot to learn.”
Despite suffering two 50-point defeats in two weeks, Fortuin insists the team remains postitive.
“The spirit is good and we really want to finish our tour off on a high note by beating the Chiefs, before our three matches at home. If we win all those games, we’ll finish in the top half of the table.”
Fortuin joined the Cheetahs last year after the Eagles failed to make the Top Eight of the Currie Cup. He played 87 matches for the George-based outfit, but a move to a bigger union was inevitable.
After playing a major role in the Cheetahs’ Currie Cup victory – something the Eagles could never achieve with their limited resources – Fortuin was an obvious choice for the region’s Super 14 squad.
“I’m pleased with my form this year, although I can still get a lot better,” he said. “The Super 14 is a lot faster than the Currie Cup, especially when we play Australian and New Zealand teams. You’re playing against the best players in the world every weekend … it’s the real deal.”
By Simon Borchardt