Vodacom Cheetahs captain Ollie le Roux has been in his fair share of Absa Currie Cup finals, and believes that form is inconsequential to the outcome of the competition’s most important game.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls are peaking at the right time, having won their last five games comfortably with Vodacom Western Province being their latest victims in the playoff over the weekend. The Springboks have added plenty of vigour to the Bulls outfit, Pierre Spies being one player in particular who has thrived since returning to the domestic competition.
Le Roux considered the battering his team has taken in the past few weeks, and weighed it up with the rampant form of the men from Pretoria – a comparison that has many experts punting a fourth Blue Bull win in five years. But as usual, Le Roux seemed unfazed.
“You need to give credit to the Bulls, as they have played well in the past few weeks and will take some of that momentum into the final,” he told keo.co.za. “Having said that, things can totally change on the day, and everything that has come before during the season won’t matter.”
While the big No 1′s attitude may seem nonchalant, he confirmed that the champs have very serious ambitions of retaining the title on Saturday. The Cheetahs will adopt a far more tactical approach, and avoid making those basic errors that cost WP dearly over the weekend. Whoever holds their nerve in Bloemfontein will ultimately hold up the cup at the end of the eighty minutes.
“Province were guilty of taking too many chances for a semi-final match. They also made one or two mistakes that allowed the Bulls to pull away from them on the scoreboard, and it is always hard to play catch up in a playoff match.
“We will implement a far more tactical approach in Saturday’s final, which should be a lot closer to Test match rugby,” he explained. “These games do tend to be more conservative, as there is so much more at stake.”
Le Roux dispelled fears about injury and weariness taking their toll after a demanding season. Willem de Waal, Gavin Passens and JW Jonker were all said to be in doubt for this match, but Le Roux allayed the concerns, stating that the trio should be fit for the final.
But if these players do fail to pass a fitness test, the Cheetahs should be confident with what they have in reserve. Coach Rassie Erasmus’s rotation policy has given the greater squad the necessary game time to build some form throughout the tournament, and so the home side won’t lose much if they have to replace these players.
A home victory in Bloemfontein on Saturday will also mark the second consecutive title for the Cheetahs, an obvious statement that only bears mentioning when considering that they have only won the competition twice in it’s entire history.
“To win in Bloem is very important to us as a team,” elaborated Le Roux. “It’s a chance to thank all of our supporters for backing us both through the good times and bad times. They will undoubtedly do their job by shouting for us on Saturday, and then whatever happens between the four white lines is up to us.”
By Jon Cardinelli