Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE will be the first step for the Toyota Cheetahs to gain confidence ahead of their Super Rugby campaign as they date fellow countrymen Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Lafarge Zimbabwe Champions Cup next Saturday.
This would be the first time that Super Rugby sides, from South Africa, will be taking on each other in Zimbabwe.
But, for the Cheetahs coach Franco Smith, the most important thing is that they go into the season with lessons from Zimbabwe.
The Bulls are this afternoon expected to land in Zimbabwe just before lunch, their first port of call being Victoria Falls, before connecting to Harare on Sunday where they are expected to touchdown on Sunday evening.
New Cheetahs captain Francois Venter believes that the game against the Blue Bulls is just a perfect platform to test his side’s strength ahead of the tough battles.
“I suppose one can call it an exciting brand of rugby, but we need to produce a style of rugby that will bring people back to the Free State Stadium. A brand of rugby with which people can identify and want to be associated with.
“We need to create new heroes here and build something that is sustainable.
“I can see the confidence. I can see it in the gym. We have been pushing mental (and physical) boundaries. We should never think that we’ve hit the ceiling. We should take that attitude onto the field. It is when you get comfortable and complacent that you make mistakes,” said Venter.
Smith, who took over towards the end of Super Rugby last year, has largely been focusing on conditioning during pre-season
“The warm-up games are exactly what it says — to warm-up. I’m not really concerned as to what they are going to do. We will be well prepared contact-wise. The important thing is that the players get confidence in what we are doing,” said Smith.
“I don’t want to see if the players can do what we want them to do, that I’ve seen already. That was the benefit of the Currie Cup. They know exactly what we want but it is just to adapt to the game intensity which will be important to me.
“What we want in these games is not for players to prove who is and who isn’t good enough — these aren’t trials.
“We are going to go out there and prepare everyone as well as we can in terms of game intensity as we are going into the competition two weeks later.
“The aim isn’t to see what works and what doesn’t work. Obviously we want to see where we are at, but the main thing will be to get some contact under the belt and be ready for the game intensity we will face.