JOHANNESBURG – While the Sharks and Western Province prepare for a Currie Cup final date on Saturday and the majority of South Africa’s players get a well-earned break until next year, it’s go, go, go for the Cheetahs and Kings.
Both Super Rugby rejects will return to PRO14 action in Europe this weekend after a two-week break, allowing the SA players to get some much-needed rest.
But they’re back in action from Friday, when round seven takes place and the Kings take on Glasgow Warriors (8.35pm kickoff), while on Saturday, the Cheetahs clash with Italian side, Zebre (8pm kickoff).
It’s a huge task awaiting Deon Davids’ men, made more difficult by the fact they will be without some key players for the trip to Scotland.
Wing Sibusiso Sithole has a knee injury and will be out of action for some time, while flyhalf Pieter-Steyn de Wet, who did duty against Benetton, also misses out.
Newcomers to the squad include prop Mzamo Majola, hooker Stephan Coetzee, loose forward Ruaan Lerm and scrumhalf Rowan Gouws.
In further good news, wing Yaw Penxe is also back in the mix, while Davids has found space for promising SWD Eagles No 10 Martin du Toit, who replaces the injured Kurt Coleman.
Davids said he is fully aware of the magnitude of the task awaiting his men.
“The Warriors play a high-tempo game and like taking on an unstructured defence, so we need to make sure we are well-organised.
“It will also be important for us to play the game in the right areas of the field and to take our opportunities when we have quality ball; that is something we have spent a lot of time on over the last few weeks,” Davids said.
Some of the men in the Warriors team, who pipped the Cheetahs 29-26 in Bloemfontein last time out on October 6 and are awaiting the Kings, include wing Tommy Seymour, flyhalf Finn Russell, lock Jonny Gray and hooker Fraser Brown.
The match in Glasgow will be played on an artificial surface, a first for the Kings players.
“We trained on artificial surfaces in Wales and Ireland before in the competition and it was really not that different. It helps improve the set-pieces, but can get slippery when it rains. It will be the same for both sides,” said Davids.
Meanwhile the Cheetahs, who are third in Conference A, are up against impressive Italian side Zebre, who are fourth in the same conference.
Rory Duncan’s team, though, will play in Europe for the second time in the competition with a new flyhalf as Robbie Petzer, who did duty the first time the men from Bloemfontein headed north, is replaced in the squad by fit-again Fred Zeilinga and Ernst Stapelberg.
Captain Francois Venter, Springbok loosie Oupa Mohoje and promising centre Nico Lee boost the side for the match, to be played in Parma, while Sergeal Petersen and Raymond Rhule will play their final games for the Cheetahs before linking up with Western Province and the Stormers ahead of next season’s Super Rugby competition.