The Cheetahs tackle Zebre Parma in Italy in their Challenge Cup opener on Saturday, and head coach Hawies Fourie is eyeing a strong run in the tournament.
Having made their European debut as an invitational team in the 2022-23 Challenge Cup, the Cheetahs have once again been invited to take part in the competition in 2023-24.
The Freestaters will open their campaign against Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, before hosting the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Sunday, 17 December.
In a round-of-16 clash last season, the Cheetahs put up a fight in a 36-21 defeat to eventual champions Toulon, and reflecting on this year’s objectives, Fourie was quoted in the media: “We made it to the round of 16, so I believe that will be the minimum we will be satisfied with this season.”
Emphasising his team’s readiness, he added: “It’s probably going to be a bit more difficult than last time, but we’re ready for it and will approach it week by week.”
Familiarity with Parma’s conditions, having played there last year in the competition, is advantageous.
“It was our home field last year, so we are used to the hotel, the field and the training facilities there,” Fourie said.
Despite facing URC outfit Zebre, who have played more matches recently, Fourie remains confident, highlighting the team’s freshness and preparation.
The return of Marnus van der Merwe, Daniel Kasende, and Rewan Kruger, who were on loan at Welsh club Ospreys, further strengthens the Cheetahs squad for the upcoming challenges.
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