De Bruin says full strength Cheetahs will be a handful for Lions
The Free State Cheetahs team that the Golden Lions are likely to encounter on Saturday cannot be compared to the one that has campaigned in the Currie Cup in recent weeks.
That’s Golden Lions coach Swys de Bruin’s wide eyed view of his team’s challenge on Saturday when they clash with the Cheetahs in what will effectively be an eliminator.
Victory for either side will mean safe passage into the semis‚ while the loser’s fate will be in the hands of the rugby gods.
“They are a formidable side. They are an exceptionally well balanced side who are very well organised in the set piece and those sevens players like Rosko Specman have made a big difference to them‚” said De Bruin‚ quickly banishing the theory that the Cheetahs had been a team in the retreat since they briefly topped the table earlier in the season.
Their Pro14 commitments have eroded the Cheetahs' talent base but they should be back to full strength this weekend as they will only resume their European commitments at the end of the month.
De Bruin recalled his side’s last meeting with the Cheetahs in which they lost after the fulltime siren.
“We were the last team to play them before they started their commitments in the Pro14. They had a full strength team. It is their Super Rugby team.
“I know they didn’t do well in Super Rugby but it is still a team with Super Rugby experience. We will be the only side in the Currie Cup to have played their full strength team twice this season.
“I think they will come into this game having gained confidence in the Pro14‚” said De Bruin.
If the sentiment exists that the Cheetahs have been punching above their weight the same can be said of the Lions. With players lost to the national cause and Japan they’ve had to rely heavily on their age group talent.
“We’ve had to push our youngsters into Currie Cup duty. We’ve had 10‚ or 11 of our under-21 players in the side this season. A couple of them were under-19.
“On the whole I’ve been able to look at our side and determine who can play Super Rugby next season and who can’t.”