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Rugby

Cheetahs en route to France with a strong squad

───   MORGAN PIEK 07:39 Wed, 03 Apr 2024

Cheetahs en route to France with a strong squad | News Article
Izak van der Westhuizen - Morgan Piek

“There is more hunger and what is important to us is the game management and to realise that when you're playing over there, anything can happen on the day. But the most important thing is to make sure that we can control what we can control.”

The Toyota Cheetahs are en route to France with a strong squad for their big EPCR Challenge Cup round of 16 clash against Clermont.

A win for the Cheetahs this week will see them facing either Ulster or Montpellier next week in the quarter-finals.

A big plus for the Cheetahs is that the majority of the players played in last year’s round of 16 game which they lost 36-21 to the French giants, Toulon.

The Cheetahs captain, Izak van der Westhuizen, told OFM Sport that they are geared, prepared and their experience this time round will help a lot.

“A lot of the guys that played against Toulon last year after going with this time,” said Van der Westhuizen.

“That is experience does count a lot and that 'big guy' syndrome is also gone. I think the guys know what to expect, and I think they also know exactly what is expected of them and what the conditions will be like.

“France is always a difficult place to play because you never know which French side will arrive for the game. But, I think it helps a lot to have that experience within the group.”

The Cheetahs captain, Victor Sekekete, in his turn told OFM Sport that controlling the controllable will be very important.

“From the boys' side, we are more eager, especially because we've been there and last year's defeat to Toulon left a bitter taste in our mouths,” said Sekekete.

“There is more hunger and what is important to us is the game management and to realise that when you're playing over there, anything can happen on the day.

“But the most important thing is to make sure that we can control what we can control.”

Sekekete added a win to set up a quarter-final against Ulster or Montpellier would be a perfect send off for the scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, as he played for both of those teams.

“It will definitely be something and also give Ruan a great send off, I think that would be fitting.

“To make it to the next round will be a good send off for Ruan, especially if we can play against Ulster, where he played the most of his rugby.”

For the coach, Van der Westhuizen, this will also be hands down the big game of this career as he has only been in charge of the team in a warm-up game against the Griquas, and SA Cup matches against the Boland Cavaliers and Leopards.

Saturday’s game between Clermont and the Cheetahs kicks off at 13:30.

Cheetahs squad - Aranos Coetzee, Schalk Ferreira, Reinhardt Fortuin, Munier Hartzenberg, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Kasende, Rewan Kruger, Andell Loubser, George Lourens, Tapiwa Mafura, Oupa Mohoje, Litha Nkula, Friedle Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, Sibabalo Qoma, Jeandré Rudolph, Victor Sekekete (captain), Alulutho Tshakweni, Laurence Victor, Gideon van der Merwe, Louis van der Westhuizen, Abner van Reenen, Hencus van Wyk, Carl Wegner, Mzwanele Zito.

Morgan Piek OFM Sport

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