Ruan Pienaar says the Cheetahs will back their skills and stick to their expansive brand of rugby on their three-match tour in the northern hemisphere despite the wet conditions.
The Cheetahs have been the pacesetters in the competition, scoring 22 tries in three games under coach Franco Smith. But the side from Bloemfontein embark on their three-game tour of Europe under the tutelage of new coach Hawies Fourie, who has already indicated that the team will be more circumspect in the way they approach the fields in both Ireland and Wales.
Captain Pienaar, who spent several seasons at Irish club Ulster, says he knows all too well what the Cheetahs will face. The 35-year-old veteran believes 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 have to get used to. We have had a chat and we believe we can back our skill set in the conditions and still play the game we want to play to put teams under pressure,’ Pienaar explained.
The Cheetahs face Irish club Connacht first up, followed by games against Welsh outfits the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues. And Pienaar predicts that the Cheetahs will be met with a stern challenge in their opening encounter.
‘Connacht is a really good team and they haven’t lost a lot of players to World Cup duty. They have continuity in their selection and have started off well this season. It will be a big challenge but that is what a tour is for – you have to challenge yourself against the best. It is a tough one first up, though, and we are looking forward to getting over there and getting started.’
Pienaar indicated that while the coaching team will guide them in the game, he and the senior group will be given the responsibility to decide when the attack is on, in order to kick off the three-week tour with a positive result.
‘We’ve trained well this week. The coaches have put things in place for whatever we face. We will be well balanced and 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. 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 and set the tone for the rest of the tour.’