24/10/2019 – SA Rugby Communications – SA teams ready to kick off Guinness PRO14 tours

Toyota Cheetahs captain Ruan Pienaar says his side will back their skill-set in the northern hemisphere as they kick off their three-week Guinness PRO14 tour in Ireland against Connacht on Saturday, while the Isuzu Southern Kings have emphasised the need to round off their chances as they prepare to face Benetton in Italy.

 

The Free Staters have been one of the pace-setters in the competition so far, scoring 22 tries in three matches under stand-in coach, Franco Smith, but this will be the first game under new coach Hawies Fourie, who has indicated that they will be more circumspect in the way they approach the heavier, softer fields in Ireland and Wales.

 

Pienaar, who spent several seasons at Ulster, knows all too well what the Toyota Cheetahs are in for, and the team will rely heavily on the skipper’s experience going into the contest. The veteran Springbok scrumhalf believes while the Toyota Cheetahs need to box clever, there is no reason why their expansive play cannot work up north.

 

“It’s a tough place to go to – weather-wise it is changing, and we have had great conditions so far in the tournament, so it is something we will have to get used to,” said Pienaar.

 

“We believe we can back our skill-set in these conditions and still play the game we want to play to put teams under pressure.

 

“Connacht is a really good team and they haven’t lost a lot of players to Rugby World Cup duty. They have continuity in their selection and have started off well this season. So it will be a big challenge, but that is what a tour is about, you have to challenge yourself against the best.

 

“It is a tough one first up, and we are looking forward to getting started.”

 

Zooming in on the match, Pienaar said: “We’ve trained well this week. The coaches have put things in place for whatever we face.

 

“We will be well-balanced, and we know when to attack and when to kick. Everyone knows what is expected from them, and as senior players we will read the conditions and decide on the field what is best, and hopefully we can make the right decisions more often than not.

 

“This is a young group that likes touring and it is important on a three week tour to try and start off well to set the tone for the rest of the tour,” according to Pienaar.

 

The Isuzu Southern Kings will look to improve on their performances in conditions that should support their pack when they take on Benetton in Treviso on Saturday.

 

The Port Elizabeth side have conceded the least penalties in the championship so far, and they boast the best lineout statistics. Isuzu Southern Kings coach Robbie Kempson believes if they can use these strengths to turn possession into points they will do well.

 

“This tour is very important for us,” said Kempson.

 

“We are getting ourselves in positions and creating opportunities but we are not converting them. I think we have lost one lineout in total and our scrum has been solid, but we haven’t been dominant, and that is something we have to work on.

 

“We also need to convert our driving mauls, especially if we are kicking to the corner and not taking the three points. That is another aspect of our play we will be looking at in the next three weeks.”

 

Guinness PRO14 Round 4 fixtures:

 

Benetton v Isuzu Southern Kings

Date: Saturday, 26 October

Kickoff: 16h00
Venue: Stadio Monigo, Treviso
Referee: Dan Jones
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea and Dai Cambourne

TMO: Tim Hayes
TV: SuperSport 2

 

Connacht v Toyota Cheetahs

Date: Saturday, 26 October

Kickoff: 18h15
Venue: The Sportsground, Galway
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher and Gwyn Morris
TMO: Sean Brickell
TV: SuperSport 2