Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus says the Sharks have shown him exactly how to beat the Blues in their Vodacom Super 14 match on Saturday.
The Natalians smashed the Blues up front in Durban last weekend and ran out comfortable 32-15 winners. Erasmus knows his side will have to be as physical if they want to achieve a similar result at Free State Stadium.
“The Sharks showed us how to play against the Blues,” Erasmus told keo.co.za. “The Blues are a physical side and we will have to step up physically if we want to beat them. Their players are big and strong and they like using big ball carriers to get over the advantage line. They have a good line-out and a solid scrum, but if we can dominate those areas we can win the game.
“People have asked me how I plan to play against the Blues and whether we will kick a lot or pass it out wide. My response is that we want to win the game. If we find that we do well at the line-outs then we’ll use that to our advantage. We will adapt our game plan according to what happens on the field.”
Erasmus admits it’s a big ask for his side to play the Blues only a few days after arriving back in South Africa, but he is not going to moan about it.
“The schedule is part and parcel of the competition,” he said. “The Sharks came back home and beat the Reds, so it can be done. The travel may effect us on Saturday, but then again it’s a home game for us, so that cancels it out.”
The Cheetahs have lost locks Ockie van Zyl and Cobus Grobler to injury, but Erasmus has taken those setbacks in his stride.
“When I spoke to Heyneke [Meyer] at the beginning of the Super 14, he told me to wait until rounds 10 and 11 and see how many guys are injured!” he said. “All teams in the Super 14 suffer injuries at some point – it’s a tough competition – but injuries give other players a chance to show what they can do. [Free State Vodacom Cup lock] Bian Vermaak has played well this year and will slot in well for Cobus.
“In saying that, injuries will obviously hit a franchise like the Cheetahs hard, because we probably don’t have the depth of some of the other teams. Losing Juan Smith [to a knee injury against the Reds] was a big blow for us.”
Fortunately for Erasmus, his captain will be back for the Blues match, along with former Bok flank Hendro Scholtz.
“It’s great to have two quality loose forwards back in the squad, and I know they’ll make a big difference,” said the coach.
By Simon Borchardt