2013 is Cheetahs' year - Strauss
Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss has predicted 2013 to be the greatest year ever for the Toyota Cheetahs.
Despite their 33-17 opening pre-season loss to the MTN Lions last weekend, Strauss was part of a host of senior players who returned to the team to face the DHL Stormers in a pre-season friendly this weekend.
And while there may be lingering doubts about the ability of the team and their perennial solid start and eventual failure, the Bok hooker believes this year is one that his teammates will make the nation sit up and take notice.
“I’m very excited about the year, we started early and we’ve worked extremely hard so far,” Strauss told OFM ahead of the Stormers clash.
“It’s going to be a great year for us, I know it. From the time I’ve been here, this is the best group of players that we have had together and this is the best preparation we have had before a season has begun.
“We were disappointed with the way the team performed against the Lions and it wasn’t ideal, but we also understand that it means little in the bigger picture. That’s not an excuse, we want to win every game, and hopefully we can put that right this weekend.”
There is no doubt the Stormers clash is a big one for the men from Bloemfontein, especially as the Cape side have won the SA Conference two years in a row and are odds-on favourites for the Vodacom Super Rugby title this year.
So much so that coach Naka Drotske has kept just one player from the loss against the Lions, with Ryno Benjamin moving to inside centre for the clash to partner Johan Sadie in a midfield experiment.
Riaan Smith takes the kicking duties at flyhalf, while the loose trio of Phillip van der Walt, Davon Raubenheimer and Boom Prinsloo are back in action. Strauss takes the captaincy again.
Juan Smith, back from a two year absence due to an Achilles injury, will get between 20-25 minutes of action on his return in the second half after being named on the bench.
TOYOTA CHEETAHS: Hennie Daniller, Jannie Boshoff, Johan Sadie, Ryno Benjamin, Rocco Jansen, Riaan Smith, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Davon Raubenheimer, Boom Prinsloo, Waltie Vermeulen, Ligtoring Landman, Louwrens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss ©, Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Caylib Oosthuizen, Lodewyk de Jager, Francois Uys, Frans Viljoen, Juan Smith, Lappies Labuschagne, Piet van Zyl, Elgar Watts, Barry Geel, Willie le Roux, Hansie Graaff.