Tough overseas tour awaits the Cheetahs

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MORGAN PIEK

It’s that time of the season again with the Toyota Cheetahs packing their bags and heading overseas for a month in the Super Rugby.

Saturday’s 27-10 loss to the Sharks in Bloemfontein has turned the tides for the Cheetahs, who started their campaign off with a bang by beating the very same team in Durban during the opening round.

The team followed this up with a somewhat unconvincing win of the Blues at home before a back-to-back loss ahead of their trip to Australasia.

While the tour is always difficult, the draw for this year’s competition is considerably tougher with matches against the Crusaders, Chiefs, Brumbies and the Western Force all coming up.

A positive for the Cheetahs is that fact that they are facing the Crusaders rather early in the tournament and the plus is that the Crusaders always get off to a slow start, despite having thumped the Lions 34-6 over the past weekend.

Having that said, Naka Drotské’s chargers are yet to win a match in Christchurch and the Saders are the seven-time champions for a very good reason. Captain Francois Uys, however, told Courant that an early season match is to their benefit.

"The most important for us is to look at the positives as soon as we hit the round. It’s going to be a very tough tour, but we’re still going to stick as a team. We want to grow with every game and take the positives from that.

"We are still quite a young team and there are still a lot of positives. We must try and rectify the things that we’ve done wrong," the lock said about their tour.

On the up side, Springbok flank Heinrich Brüssow made his long awaited comeback on Saturday evening when he had a 30-minute run against the Sharks at the wet Free State Stadium.

Along with Pieter-Steph du Toit’s dreadful knee injury with the Sharks leading 22-3 at the break, Brüssow’s impact was immediate and saw the score at 27-10 when the final whistle blew.

Taking nothing away from the performance of Boom Prinsloo, Jean Cook, Oupa Mohoje and Willie Britz during the previous four games, it’s a no-brainer that Brüssow has to play against Todd Blackadder’s side.

Following his return to the park coach Naka Drotské was happy with what the player had to offer.

"I thought Heinrich played really well and that’s a big positive for us going forward.

He has a huge influence on our team and he showed tonight what an amazing player he is. He had concussion for the last five-six weeks, so he couldn’t run at all and to come on and play for 30 minutes the way he did is really mental toughness," the coach added about his very special player.

Furthermore, Joe Pietersen should have recovered from his cold by the time they take to the field in Christchurch as he was sorely missed after his late withdrawal on Saturday morning.

This coming Saturday’s match at AMI Stadium kicks off at 8:35.

Other Super Rugby matches this weekend involving South African teams see the Melbourne Rebels host the Lions at AAMI Park, Melbourne on Friday morning at 10:40, on Saturday the Bulls tackle the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria at 17:05 and the Sharks collide with the Chiefs at King’s Park, Durban with kick-off at 19:10.