Jake White brands Cheetahs 'conservative'
July 19, 2013
Raymond Rhule is key for the Cheetahs, Henry Speight says © Getty Images
Brumbies coach Jake White has described the Cheetahs as one of the most conservative sides in Super Rugby, dismissing as a myth the perception they play running rugby.
The Cheetahs will make their first finals appearance when they take on the Brumbies in the Super Rugby qualifier at Canberra Stadium on Sunday, and many pundits believe the Bloemfontein-based side is the most entertaining South African team to watch. But Springboks Rugby World Cup 2007-winning coach White is not convinced.
"There's this perception, it's funny how it works, that certain teams score a lot of tries and they run from everywhere," White said. "It's not the case at all. I think they are probably one of the most conservative teams in the competition. They don't play like Australian teams, they actually play more like South African teams."
The Cheetahs have scored 38 tries this year, fewer than any Australian or New Zealand side other than Queensland Reds (31) - whom White believes people also mistake for a free-flowing side - and Western Force (26).
"They play exactly like the Queensland Reds," White said of the Cheetahs. "They kick as much as the Queensland Reds as well. They kick a lot, they let you play in your own half, and if you make a mistake then they pounce."
The Cheetahs' back-row works extremely hard to secure turnover ball, with Pieter Labuschagne (261), Heinrich Brussow (205) and Phillip van der Walt (203) all in the top six for most tackles made this year according to Sportsdata. "They've got enough players there that once they get some turnover ball, Willie le Roux and all those outside backs can really punish you," White said.
Henry Speight, who has scored eight of the Brumbies' 43 tries this year, labelled the Cheetahs' trio of outside backs - Raymond Rhule, Hennie Daniller and le Roux - as extremely dangerous. "It'll be just down to us playing to our patterns and making sure we hold onto the ball and not letting them force any turnovers which they can attack from," Speight said.
Follow live text commentary of the Super Rugby qualifier between the Brumbies and the Cheetahs on Sunday, July 21, from 5.45pm (NZT), 3.45pm (EST), 6.45am (GMT)
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