The Toyota Cheetahs will be facing Cardiff Blues on Saturday, 9 November in their last of three matches on tour. The action at Cardiff Arms Park, in Cardiff, Wales, kicks off at 19:15 (SA time). Live on SuperSport 1, S4C, Premier Sports, eirSports and DAZN.
Coach Hawies Fourie: “We’re looking forward to Saturday’s match. It is the last one on tour. We came here to win all three but unfortunately we lost the first two close losses. This is our last chance to win a match on tour.”
“Our preparations this week went well. We are lucky not to have any injuries and have a full team to train with, which brings continuity. We’ll be playing on an artificial pitch and luckily we trained on Cardiff City’s soccer field this week, with the same surface for the players to get used to the conditions.”
“Cardiff didn’t have the best start, but they have strong team, especially with players returning from the World Cup. We expect a big challenge.”
Lock, Sintu Manjezi: “For us it is important to just put the two previous results behind us and focus on the task at hand. In terms of performances, I think we have performed well. We’re just lacking that 5 to 10% execution in all departments. That could be the difference between closes loses and wins.”
“The main focus this week is on Cardiff. We will be looking to execute as best we can in order to give ourselves as best opportunity we can to win. Our setpiece hasn’t been as good as in the three games which we won at home, so we are looking to better that and improve that. I think it will also have to be an improvement in our general game plan as well. We will look to do everything to the best of our ability.
“Obviously the conditions here are a bit different to back home but that is no excuse. We as players in the team expect to execute a lot better than we have done. It is the last game on tour and we are looking to get a win to take back to Bloem and end the tour on a high.”
The two sides have met on four previous occasions with each match going with the home field advantage. Blues won 2, Toyota Cheetahs won 2. Cardiff lost their last two matches at the Arms Park, to Edinburgh and Munster but have not lost three in a row at the venue since December 2016. Toyota Cheetahs’ last seven matches have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst they have not won away from home since beating Southern Kings on 18 January.
Junior Pokomela, who hails from Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, the same school as the Springbok Captain, Siya Kolisi, will be playing in his 50th game for the Toyota Cheetahs this weekend. His journey includes two Super Rugby caps, 14 Currie Cup and 33 Guinness PRO14 appearances for the Bloemfontein-based side.
“It is a small victory for me, but it is a big thing, as it happened so quickly. I wasn’t expecting it and didn’t even know it happened. It is an honour to be playing my 50th game this weekend. I wouldn’t have done it without the guys I’ve played with before and the guys now. I’m grateful to the coaches who gave me the opportunity and hopefully I can contribute more to the team,” Pokomela says looking towards the game.
Coach Hawies Fourie announced the team with changes from last week’s match against Scarlets.
• Luan de Bruin and Boan Venter switch places with De Bruin starting on loosehead prop and Venter on reserve.
• Walt Steenkamp and Gerhard Oliver moves to the starting line-up with JP du Preez and Sias Koen providing cover on the bench.
• Ruan Pienaar will be starting on scrumhalf and leading the team.
• The wings are Anthony Volmink and Clayton Blommetjies and the centres are Benhard Janse van Rensburg and William Small-Smith.
• Tian Meyer and Louis Fouche will be providing cover for the backline.
The following players are not eligible for team selection due to injury: Justin Basson (knee), Marnus van der Merwe (foot), Charles Marais (bicep).
1. Luan de Bruin
2. Joseph Dweba
3. Aranos Coetzee
4. Sintu Manjezi
5. Walt Steenkamp
6. Gerhard Olivier
7. Junior Pokomela
8. Jasper Wiese
9. Ruan Pienaar (C)
10. Tian Schoeman
11. Anthony Volmink
12. Benhard Janse van Rensburg
13. William Small-Smith
14. Clayton Blommetjies
15. Rhyno Smith
16. Wilmar Arnoldi
17. Boan Venter
18. Erich de Jager
19. JP du Preez
20. Sias Koen
21. Tian Meyer
22. George Whitehead
23. Louis Fouche
The referee for the match is Ben Blain (SRU, 4th competition game). He will be assisted by Mike Adamson (SRU) and Fin Brown (SRU). The TMO is Andrew McMenemy (SRU).
The team will be returning to South Africa on Sunday, arriving in Bloemfontein on Monday, 11 November. Their next match is on 30 November against Ospreys at 21:35 (SA time), at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales.