Tough task awaits Pumas

Pumas coach Chris Grobler is a worried man ahead of his team’s trip to Bloemfontein to take on the Vodacom Cheetahs.

After four rounds the Pumas have just two points and have yet to win a game. The defending Absa Currie Cup champions on the other hand lost their first game last weekend and have looked sublime in their opening three games.

It is a top of the table versus bottom of the table clash and few would give the Pumas any chance of upsetting the Cheetahs, especially in Bloemfontein, but stranger things have happened in rugby.

And the Pumas were hammered 50-3 last year, also in Bloemfontein. But in 2004, the Pumas pulled off a remarkable double against that year’s beaten finalists. On consecutive weekends, Grobler’s charges won 23-16 away and then repeated the dose the following weekend in Witbank – 29-26.

After that second win though they went on to lose their last six games of the season. And that illustrates the unpredictability of the Pumas team.

“We can’t look at previous years,” Grobler told keo.co.za. “The Cheetahs will be tough and if we hope to compete at all we will need to play for the full 80 minutes.”

Grobler has been perplexed by his team’s inability to concentrate for the full 80 minutes and it cost his team on two occasions so far this season.

“At this level there is no way you can relax against a top team. Because even if it is for ten minutes you will get hammered and not be able to recover. You can’t play catch up in this league.”

Grobler put it down to perhaps inexperience. “Perhaps that is it, but the guys are learning fast. We can win. I know it,” he said.

For Grobler, captain Riaan van der Merwe and the rest of the Pumas outfit, more hard work lies ahead this week if they hope to give Rassie Erasmus’s men a hard time this weekend.

The Cheetahs, of course, are smarting from the defeat to Western Province at Newlands at the weekend and will be aiming to take their own frustration out on the visitors. A win for the Cheetahs will keep them atop the Currie Cup standings.

By Andrew Hollely