Cheetahs excited ahead of Sharks challenge in Umlazi

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Sergeal Petersen PHOTO: NICOLETTE TALJAARD

The Toyota Cheetahs tackle the Sharks on Friday evening in their second Super Rugby warm-up match which will be played in Umlazi.

Last weekend they slumped to a 43-7 defeat to the Stormers in Harare, Zimbabwe, however, the score line has got no real significance to the team.

Although a win is important, it’s even more important to prepare and condition the team to withstand the rigours of the gruelling competition which lies ahead.

Franco Smith, the coach of the Cheetahs, says a person cannot read too much into warm-up games.

“Warm-up games it exactly what it says, it’s all about warming up and trying new things and doing something different,” said the former Springbok utility back.

“Physical preparation is important. We’re less than a month away from the first game.

“We know that this is going to be a really tough year so we are conditioning differently and we are trying to do things differently which will influence our reaction speed and other small things.

“We see this as a training run, as we did with the match in Harare. We are all very competitive and we all felt that it’s a pity that there must be a scoreline for a warm-up game, because it’s absolutely not what it’s about.

“We are definitely not interested in the results, what we are interested in is the video footage from last week and this week and we will use that to our benefit.”

Furthermore, the matches give players such as Boom Prinsloo some much-needed game time after the player missed virtually the entire season in 2016 due to injury.

The team will without a doubt have much more bite this weekend with some of the more seasoned campaigners linking up with the team in Durban on Wednesday.

A total of nine players will be linking up with the enlarged player group and they include the flyhalf, Niel Marais, who successfully led the team to the Currie Cup title in 2016.

Marais says although it’s only a warm-up game in Umlazi he is inching to get onto the park.

“Just to get an opportunity to implement everything we’ve worked on and getting an opportunity to play for the change is definitely something that excites us.

“We’re all really excited about the season and the year and the excitement will help with Friday evening’s match.

“It’s going to be an incredible game although it’s just a warm-up game.

“This is the kind of game in which you have to get things ironed out for the season, so we’re excited”.

The other players linking up with the team in Durban are Uzair Cassiem, Niell Jordaan, Armandt Koster, Ox Nche, Sergeal Petersen, Tier Schoeman, Ruan van Rensburg and Shaun Venter.

Both the Sharks and the Cheetahs will be making use of enlarged squads for the warm-up game.

Friday evening’s match at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi kicks off at 18:30 and will be televised.

Toyota Cheetahs – Justin Basson, Rayno Benjamin, Uzair Cassiem, Aranos Coetzee, Clayton Blommetjies, Luan de Bruin, Erich de Jager, Jacques du Toit, Ryno Eksteen, Elandré Huggett, Reniel Hugo, Niell Jordaan, Armandt Koster, Nico Lee, Charles Marais, Steven Meiring, Tian Meyer, Ali Mgijima, Danie Mienie, Zee Mkhabela, Oupa Mohoje, Ox Nche, Sergeal Petersen, Junior Pokomela, Boom Prinsloo, Raymond Rhule, Tier Schoeman, JP Smith, Clinton Swart, Francois Uys, Michael van der Spuy, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Ruan van Rensburg, Henco Venter, Shaun Venter, Dennis Visser, Jasper Wiese, Lihleli Xoli, Fred Zeilinga. – MORGAN PIEK