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VIDEO: Cheetahs aim to ready team for Currie Cup

VIDEO: Cheetahs coach Izak van der Westhuizen will use the SA Cup to get a settled side ready for the Currie Cup after their disappointing loss against Clermont in the Challenge Cup last weekend.

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The Cheetahs bowed out of the Challenge Cup in the Round of 16 when they lost 22- 27 to hosts Clermont while the a very young Cheetah side got a 0-50 beating at the hands of the Pumas in the SA Cup over the weekend.

But Van der Westhuizen says these experiences all help to get the side ready to defend their Currie Cup title later this year.

“It’s never easy [playing against an overseas team], especially with the travel. We are trying to find a balance between the players that went on the Clermont trip to get them ready and then also reward the guys that went well against the Pumas,” Van der Westhuizen told reporters on Tuesday.

“The thing is to get the whole squad ready to play in the Currie Cup. It will be a bit a blend on the weekend again.

“Playing against Clermont in Clermont is one of the bigger games you will get. It’s been a long time since they went undefeated there. So it’s not an easy ground to go to and just walk away with a win.

“They were ranked one of the most dominant scrums in the competition. So to go up against them and in the end our scrum efficiency was better than theirs. Even though they got two scrum penalties, we still got a turn-over scrum.

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“So I think for us it was valuable learnings and experience. They are not a shabby side. There is a lot of quality players, international players, and loads of experience.”

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According to the coach a host of youngsters, some of whom were still in school last year, put up their hands in the game against the Pumas and he will be giving them another run against Eastern Province in Bloemfontein this weekend.

“The plan is to give some of those guys an opportunity. We want to give as many of our players a chance to play like we want to play,” Van der Westhuizen explained.

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One of the stars in France was replacement flank Siba Qoma. When he entered the fray he seemed to energise the Cheetahs, scored two tries while his defence was exceptional.

Qoma was all smiles when he faced the media on Tuesday, explaining he had special instructions at half-time from the coaching staff.

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“At halftime I got clear instructions and the instructions were you better to bring some fire to the team.

“I try my best and I think I kind of achieved that but obviously I would have like the win,” he said.

Qoma struggled with an ankle injury for the last couple of weeks but his comeback highlighted his exceptional skills.

“I was out for a couple of weeks with a slight niggle on my ankle.

“You get your confidence from playing. Being in that position to play and not get any injuries is one of the best things that can happen to a player.

“The more you play, the more you get confidence, the more confidence you have, the better you perform,” the flank explained.

He said he was happy to play in the SA Cup as every opportunity to play, improves a player.

“There is a lot to play for [in the SA Cup], the pressure is always there and we love pressure. We are professional athletes.

“The opportunity in the SA Cup allows you to maybe try things you haven’t tried before and to give you that confidence,” he concluded.

 

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