Barend Pieterse believes the forwards battle will determine the outcome between the Stormers and Cheetahs on Saturday.
Pieterse, a former Cheetahs lock turned forwards coach, has experienced triumph and defeat in previous trips to Newlands. He played in the 31-25 victory against the Cape franchise in 2006 and the 34-22 loss two years later.
Pieterse believes the current Stormers side is even better than the one that beat them in the latter fixture.
‘Three years ago, everybody believed the Stormers could be a great side if they had a strong pack of forwards,’ Pieterse told keo.co.za. ‘Now that they have guys like Francois Louw, Pieter Louw, Tiaan Liebenberg, Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen, they have depth and talent and are achieving the winning results because of it.’
However, Pieterse believes they have the ability to counter the in-form Stormers forwards.
‘I think the match will be won in the forwards battle up front, but it all depends on who wants it more and we do have a pack to take them on,’ said Pieterse. ‘We have Juan Smith and Frans Viljoen, who are very physical and will get the team going, while Hendro Scholtz and Kabamba Floors will also play big roles.’
Loosehead prop Wian du Preez stressed that they need to continue to progress their front row play.
‘We [the front row] didn’t start the season as we wanted to but we are picking up,’ Du Preez also told this website.
‘In the last couple games we have improved so there is an upward curve in our progress, so we are looking to add on to that with a good performance against the Stormers. Our work-rate at the rucks and tackles will also be vital.’
Pieterse said the Cheetahs’ backline is capable of holding its own against their Stormers counterparts who boast Springboks Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana.
‘Fourie isn’t playing the greatest rugby at the moment and our guys like Meyer Bosman and Robert Ebersohn had a great performance in our win against the Hurricanes,’ said Pieterse.
When asked about Heinrich Brüssow’s replacement, Pieterse believes Scholtz is a capable replacement.
‘It’s going to be a physical game, so we will start Hendro and have Kabamba come off the bench,’ said Pieterse. ‘In the backline, Corné Uys has recovered from his injury but I think Robert will start. I don’t think [head coach] Naka Drotske will want to change a winning formula.’
Cheetahs (probable) – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Frans Viljoen, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
By Gareth Duncan