Cheetahs captain Juan Smith believes his team has the necessary firepower to drastically improve on their 13th place finish in the Super 14 in 2008.
Rugby 365 reports that while the Cheetahs may lack the depth of the other South African Super 14 franchises, Smith stressed that the Bloemfontein outfit has quality back-up players in almost all positions this season.
Since their inclusion in the southern hemisphere showpiece the Cheetahs has been forced to develop young players rather than spend huge sums on buying top players — the lack of which has counted heavily against the team in the past.
But Smith is confident that the Cheetahs recruitment efforts will pay dividends this year.
“We have bought a few new backline players this season like Corné Uys [former Stormers centre] and Piet van Zyl [former Boland Cavaliers centre], so we have a bit more depth,” said Smith told Business Day.
“We now have two or three players who can fill in almost all positions. But apart from that I am really impressed with the shape the guys are in after their break and the spirit among the players. They can’t wait for the series .”
Despite the team winning only one of their 13 games last season, Smith said it was not necessary to make drastic changes to their game plan.
“The main problem is that we do not have the depth in top players the other franchises have,” he said.
“But last season we lost out on about nine bonus points, which would have put us in a better position. It is little things that we have to correct at this stage, like playing for the full 80 minutes rather than playing for 70 minutes, which we did last season.”
Smith, however, admits that the team faces a huge challenge in the series, especially since most of the opposition teams have established sides featuring a few veterans.
“A lot of the players are young and for many of them it will be their first overseas tour,” said Smith.
“As things stand we are the only South African franchise that has not won a game on the overseas leg. So it will be a challenge but we are looking forward to it.”Tweet