JOHANNESBURG – They’re battling in the Currie Cup and they’re battling in the Pro14. But who wouldn’t when your resources are split between two competitions that run at the same time?
The Cheetahs are up against it, and it’s not right and it’s not fair.
In four winless Currie Cup games, the second-stringers have conceded 146 points and scored only 55; the log-leading Lions have scored 147 and let in 90. In their two Pro14 games so far, playing with their strongest and first choice squad, the Cheetahs are two defeats from two and bottom of their section without any log points.
Currie Cup coach Daan Human was frank about the difficulties facing his team in the Currie Cup competition following their fourth straight defeat, to the Lions, last Saturday.
“It’s not easy ... we’re trying to do our utmost with what we have,” said the former prop forward. “I can’t complain about the fight shown by every player but we knew before the time that it would be tough playing against quality sides like the Lions.
“When you’ve got 27 guys unavailable, you have to use the young guys ... it’s a special situation. But, I’m always going to be positive.”
Human said it was important to look at the bigger picture and that was the opportunity for the Cheetahs to grow and develop their young players. “If you look, for example, at last year’s game against the Sharks, we took 40 points against them in Durban; just last week we nearly beat them at home (29-33) ... and that’s the same group of players, so there are some positives.
“But, we do have our backs to the wall all the time. We just have to keep working hard, something we do well in the Free State. It’s not ideal, but this (Currie Cup) team is my team and I don’t see them as second-stringers ... I’m proud of them.”
The 2018 edition of the Currie Cup is now already at the halfway mark in the round-robin stage, with each team set to finish having played just six league matches before the playoffs. While there has been criticism about the structure of the competition, and the actual competitiveness of it, Human said it was the one competition that simply could not be done away with in future.
“It’s a special cup and needs to be a part of South African rugby for as long as possible. Every single Springbok played in it and we shouldn’t take it away. But, when it comes to the structure it would maybe help in future if we were able to slot it in between the end of Super Rugby and the start of the Pro 14 ... then we’d have a decent Currie Cup.”
The Currie Cup Cheetahs have already lost to the Blue Bulls (12-34), Western Province (0-32), the Sharks (29-33) and the Lions (14-47).
Their remaining games are against arguably the weaker teams in the competition, neighbours Griquas in Kimberley this weekend and the Pumas, in Bloemfontein, on September 21.
The Pro14 Cheetahs have played twice in the competition and lost to Munster (0-38) and the Ospreys (14-46).