Cheetahs star fullback Rhyno Smith believes that his side has the ability to claim their first ever PRO14 championship title this season.
Smith, who was part of the Cheetahs set-up last season, feels the team has taken a massive step up and are playing with such confidence that no result is beyond them.
Their demolition of Irish club Ulster last weekend followed a similar big win over last season’s finalists Glasgow Warriors but the Cheetahs will face a different enemy in unbeaten Irish side Munster in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Despite question marks over if they will be able to transport their free-flowing game to Europe, Smith believes they have the confidence to go far.
‘The guys believe now we can win this competition, we’ve won South Africa’s domestic competition and just the confidence combined with that and most of the guys have more than 20 caps in PRO14,’ Smith said.
‘They know what the weather is going to be like and they know who they are playing against. They know what they can expect.
‘So I think we believe for the first time in three years that we can win.’
Four tries in two games underlines the fact that Smith is in red-hot form at the moment, leading a number of the competition stats and he finally feels he has settled into a game plan that accentuates his strengths.
‘I just think the Cheetahs are keen to play the ball and to run. Everyone is on the same page and I think it suits my game a bit more than the way we played at the Sharks. The fact that I’m getting picked makes a big difference.
‘The coaching and management staff all back me and want me to play, and that makes a huge difference for a player. I really enjoy that and it helps a lot.’
Smith knows just how tough it is to face the Cheetahs when they are on a roll. He played for the Sharks in the Currie Cup and was on the losing side as the Cheetahs romped towards the Currie Cup title. He believes that opposition backs will struggle with the pace of the Bloemfontein side.
‘I played Currie Cup against the Cheetahs five weeks ago and I can tell you as a back the pace these guys play at is so difficult to keep up with as an opposition player and an outside back. You are busy covering space the whole time and by the time you get a one-on-one with a guy that breaks through, you are so smashed that it is actually unfair to you.
‘It is really difficult the way the Cheetahs play and altitude helps them.’
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images