After a disappointing Super Rugby season, the Cheetahs head into the Currie Cup on a mission to restore some pride.
After a Super Rugby season filled with disappointment and heartbreak, the Free State Cheetahs head into the Currie Cup on a mission to restore some pride.
In what has been a historic disadvantage, the men from Bloemfontein will have to right their recent wrongs without many of their first choice players.
Their mission has once again been complicated by a host of players finding greener pastures and this year the absence of their Springboks should make it an even tougher task.
Although no longer the captain of the side, Cheetahs loose-forward Boom Prinsloo said that he is more than confident that his side would be able to overcome these setbacks and that they will again play the brand of rugby fans from all corners of the globe has come to expect from them.
Part of the reason for Prinsloo's optimism lies in the opportunities that will be given to players who hail from a system that is renowned for producing world class players.
Prinsloo said that these young guns will be ready and inspired to do their best.
“As always, there are many young players who will come through, but then we all started at a young age, myself included, and if you are good enough you will make it,” Prinsloo told Planet Rugby.
“I really think we have many players who are good enough to make it and I believe we will have a good season.”
As one of the more experienced campaigners, Prinsloo said that his job as a motivator should be a walk in the park – purely because of the heritage and pride that is inherent in the competition.
“The Currie Cup is a special tournament and that will never change,” he said.
“We grew up watching our hero's play in the Currie Cup and every player knows that if they can make a mark at this level there is no reason why it cannot be done at the international stage.”
Prinsloo added that maturity will be a factor for the younger guys, but that the transition to the senior stage should not be that big a nightmare.
“These days most players are identified at schoolboy level and come through academies, so they are far more professional than what may have been the case five or ten years ago.
“The transition is not that difficult and that bodes well for the Free State were so many youngsters come through the ranks.
Playing against unknown factors like the Pumas also brings excitement to the Cheetahs camp, Prinsloo said.
He added that underestimating any side would be suicidal and that his team would have to adapt as fast as they could.
“Playing against sides like the Pumas you know it is going to be extremely physical and we know all too well that on the day any team can knock out a big team.
“We know it is going to be more difficult with the extra travel, but we also understand that it is good for South African rugby for the game to go to places where it hasn't features so prominently in the past.
As for his message to fans who were thwarted to see their side go from Super Rugby semi-finalists to finishing bottom of the South African conference, the big Boom managed to see the silver lining.
“It was a disappointing Super Rugby season, but I think there are many changes on the horizon at the Free State, so everyone is positive and everyone wants to work hard to restore the pride.”
By Michael Mentz