Western Province senior professional coach Rassie Erasmus believes that the lineouts will be a vital facet of the game in Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against the Free State Cheetahs at Newlands.
Ashfak Mohamed writes in Cape Times that Erasmus worked closely with the WP team at their training base in Durbanville on Tuesday morning and said that he had paid special attention to the lineouts, which he thinks will be even more difficult to secure with the new ELVs that are being applied.
And he singled out the Cheetahs’ veteran lock Barend Pieterse, who will be retiring at the end of the season, as the biggest threat to Province’s own big men, Adriaan Fondse and captain Ross Skeate.
Erasmus said at the launch of WP’s High Performance Centre in Bellville that the new ELV which states that there is no limit to the number of players a team can place in a lineout, could be a major obstacle in trying to win lineout ball.
“The numbers in the lineouts issue is having an enormous impact on the play. I read somewhere that we had struggled in the lineouts against the Bulls, but let me tell you that we lost only three out of 23 lineouts. That is actually unbelievable if you think that the other team can put as many players as they want in the lineout to compete on our ball,” he said.
“So lineouts will become a huge gamble from now on. And with Barend Pieterse there, it will be even more difficult on Saturday. In fact, for both sides, with Ross and Fondsie there as well. I expect that lineouts will still be nice in the upcoming Tri-Nations, because they are still playing the Super 14 ELVs. But that will be the last of nice lineouts.”
Fondse and Skeate are excellent lineout jumpers for WP, but they will find tough competition in Pieterse. Erasmus said that Pieterse’s anticipation in the lineouts could hamper WP’s ability to secure clean ball for their backs.
“Barend has an engine on him. He runs a 13-plus bleep test. And the big thing about lineouts is that you must get there first. That gives you time to see what the opposition is up to,” he said.
“He is very fast on his feet and has explosive power. He is quick up into the air. He has a great feel for where the opposition will throw. He also uses mind games well and pretends that he will close down there and then he goes somewhere else. He is very clever.”
Although Erasmus does not feel that his role as a former Cheetahs coach will benefit WP greatly, he said that he will re-emphasise some of the Cheetahs’ strengths to his current team.
“It has been a while now that I am gone from the Cheetahs, so Naka has brought in his own structures and plans. I would imagine that there is very little left from what I did there,” he said.
“This is the third time that we are playing them since I left there. We have the same players still, so we have had that chat about how committed the Cheetahs are and how thorough they are and the attention to detail that they have. And how gutsy they are. So the players will know that. We will reinforce that to make sure that the players know what to expect.”
Erasmus is confident that WP can win on Saturday. “We are playing at Newlands and I think it should be a close game. They are unbeaten and are the Currie Cup champs. So it is a big challenge for us. (But) we do stand a good chance of winning. I am not saying that we are the favourites, but I think that we have a good chance.”Tweet