The unpredictable nature of the Lions makes them one of the most dangerous sides and a real threat to the defending champion Free State Cheetahs when the two sides meet a Currie Cup crunch match in Johannesburg on Friday.
Jan de Koning writes for Rugby 365 that amidst the excitement of the Tri-Nations the Currie Cup, South Africa’s premier domestic provincial competition, continues its staggered progress – with two matches in Round Nine taking place this week and another two the following week.
While Griquas and the Falcons also face off this week, the Currie Cup spotlight will be firmly focussed on Johannesburg where last year’s finalists go head-to-head once more.
The Cheetahs managed a narrow 22-18 over the Lions in Bloemfontein earlier in the competition, but travelling up to Johannesburg for the return fixture provides a number of challenges.
Top of that list, according to Cheetahs team manager Helgard Muller, is the unpredictable nature of the home team.
And of course the game is much more important this time round, as both teams have a lot less room to manoeuvre in the race for the play-offs – with the Cheetahs in third place on the standings and the Lions in fourth.
“It is an enormously important game for both teams,” Muller told rugby365.com, in reference to the play-offs in October, adding: “But we are looking forward to the challenge.”
He admitted that the Lions, despite the slow start which saw them loser their first two matches, the Lions remain one of the most highly rated teams in the country.
“Many pundits regard them as the most dangerous team in the country,” he said of the team the Cheetahs edged 20-18 in the 2007 Final – with a converted try in the last five minutes of the match.
“What really makes them so dangerous is that no matter how tough it gets, even if the bounce of the ball is against them, they will always come back at you,” Muller told rugby365.com.
“They are truly unpredictable, a team that will try anything – a really ‘foxy’ team,” Muller added.
The Cheetahs team manager confirmed that the side has just one injury concern – lock Flip van der Merwe is struggling with an upper-leg muscle injury.
A decision about his fitness will be made later in the week, but Nico Breedt has been placed on standby to take over in the second row.
Breedt, who left the Cheetahs to join the Sharks before heading to France where he played for Toulon, has been training with the Cheetahs for three weeks.
The Cheetahs are also still awaiting news from the Springbok camp on the availability of wing Jongi Nokwe – who could be called up for Teri-Nations duty if Bryan Habana’s hamstring injury rules him out of the Test against Australia on Saturday.Tweet