Mind games, rumours and secrecy were part of the run-up to Saturday’s Super 14 rugby match between the Cheetahs and the Stormers this week.
Pieter Jordaan writes for Die Volksblad that Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus, who coached the Cheetahs until last year, is said to have taken the home team behind closed gates for a practice session because of concern about possible Cheetahs spies.
A member of the Stormers management was quoted early this week as saying “one would be surprised about how many spies there still are in Cape Town”.
The smoke has cleared since and on Thursday it was said nothing should be read into the Stormers’ closed training session.
At Cheetahs practices, spectators were often asked, jokingly of course, to take out the video cameras from underneath their clothing.
The jokes apparently stem from some reputation that Erasmus had during his time as Cheetahs coach. The Free Staters should know best about this.
The spy talks have been dismissed in both camps, however.
“I know we have not done very well this season but wer’e not so bad that we have to send spies to video other teams when they train,” Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske said tongue in cheek.
Drotske was disinclined to make much of the contest between him and his friend and predecessor.
“Rassie and I come a long way; we began playing together in 1992. We respect each other’s views.
“This is a professional sport and he has responsibilities at the Stormers; as I have at the Cheetahs.”
The Cheetahs have beaten the Stormers in both their previous Super 14 matches. Erasmus was the Cheetahs coach on both occasions.
Free Staters believe Erasmus has valuable knowledge of some of the players who will be turning out against his side on Saturday.
However, Drotske insists that he is not concerned about that. “There is so much analysing going on and so much software and stuff that everyone is watching and analysing everyone else week after week in the Super 14,” he said.
Whether one of the coaches has a card (or hidden camera?) up his sleeve, will be seen at Newlands on Saturday.
Who knows what happened behind those closed gates when the Stormers trained? And who knows why so many of the Cheetahs reserves had a run in the starting lineup this week?
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