Naka Drotske says the return of Coenie Oosthuizen and Ashley Johnson will give the Cheetahs some much-needed grunt up front against the Brumbies.
After back-to-back defeats against the Lions (27-25) and Bulls (51-19), the Cheetahs have made the trip across to Sydney, where the team have settled ahead of their next Super Rugby clash against Jake White’s Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday. They’ll only travel to the Australian capital on Friday as they focus on problematic areas that cost them in their heavy defeat in Bloemfontein last weekend.
Drotske lamented individual errors on defence that saw the Cheetahs concede six tries in the 32-point home hammering, while he also felt they were ineffective on attack.
‘The Bulls played really well, but I think we made it too easy for them,’ Drotske told keo.co.za. ‘We slipped too many tackles, which occurred in the build-up of most of their tries. It was disappointing because we defended very well against the Lions … we just conceded too many penalties in that match. Our discipline improved against the Bulls, but our defence wasn’t good enough.
‘On attack, Adriaan Strauss was the only player providing us with major momentum. Having Coenie and Ashley starting for us this week will be a big boost. They’re powerful ball-carriers and defenders, so they’ll make a positive impact. George Earle also starts and will have a physical presence. He’s your typical No 4 lock.’
Drotske added that a strong forwards showing will be key against the Brumbies.
‘The Brumbies have only played one match as they enjoyed a bye last weekend. We’ve done our research, but there wasn’t much we could take out of that fixture as they kicked a lot. So we’ll be focusing on our own game. We’ll need our pack to set the tone up front with a powerful performance, followed by a good kicking game and taking our chances when they come our way.’
The Cheetahs are hoping to replicate the start of their 2011 overseas tour, which saw them beat the Waratahs 23-3 in Sydney.
‘We haven’t done well overseas in the past,’ said Drotske, ‘but that victory last season has given our players the belief that we win in Australasia if we play well. We’re hoping to return to South Africa with some success.’
By Gareth Duncan