Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie believes his team can stage a Super 14 ambush in Christchurch on Saturday, when they meet the second-placed Crusaders.
Rugby 365 reports that Fourie, speaking to the Bloemfontein-based radio station OFM, said his team has proved in the past that they can upstage teams at the top end of the table.
He admits that it will be a tall order to overcome the most succesful team in the competition’s history, but feels the Cheetahs have a big performance in them.
“We all know there are no easy games in the competition,” Fourie told OFM’s sportscage.
“On top of that the Crusaders, in Christchurch, is one of the toughest hurdles to clear.
“However, we beat them in Bloemfontein last year and we believe we can do that again if we play well enough.
“Last year we showed we can overcome the odds and our two wins this year again showed it. Nobody gave us a change against the Hurricanes and the Sharks in Durban.”
However, since those two victories early in the season the Cheetahs have slumped to four successive – three in Australia.
“Since those games [the Sharks and Hurricanes] we have been pretty disappointed with our performances,” Fourie said.
Although he was at pains to stress that it is not an excuse for some of their shocking defeats, Fourie admitted that the large number of injuries have been disruptive.
“There have been many setbacks,” he said, when asked how difficult it was for the team to tour without inspirational captain Juan Smith – who was at the bedside of his father, who passed away last week.
“It is ironic that most of the major injuries are in one position,” he said of a rash of setbacks and injuries that have robbed them of five loose forwards.
“Kabamba [Floors] has been banned [for five weeks], Ashley [Johnson] is injured, Heinrich Brüssow is injured, Frans Viljoen is injured and now Juan [Smith] with his father’s death.
“That is five quality players, four of them Springboks, so it is tough to lose those players. The same goes for [Sevens Bok] Lionel Mapoe in the backline.”
He pointed out that 12 players have played their first Super Rugby this year, many as a result of the numerous injury setbacks.
“Nobody would have predicted that at the outset,” Fourie said, adding: “We thought we had a lot of depth. Yet we had such a run of injuries that we will be fielding our 12th debutant on Saturday.
“I’m not sure there is any other team that fielded 12 newcomers in one season.
“If you take any team in the competition and you take their top five loose forwards out of the equation they will struggle.
“However, we said from the outset there will be no excuses this year and we have to be honest and say that in some games – like against the Highlanders, the Reds and the Brumbies – we simply did not play well enough to win.
“We have to own up and take it on the chin sometimes and admit that in those games we simply did not play well enough to win.”Tweet