Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
19 Apr 2014
9:00 am

Brussow return boosts Cheetahs

Heinz Schenk

Sometimes the presence of merely one man can instigate an upswing in fortunes, that's why Heinrich Brussow's return will leave the Cheetahs in a more hopeful mood when they play the Sharks in Durban this afternoon.

Heinrich Brussow.
Picture: Gallo Images.

In fact, the home side don’t need a reminder of the devastating mix of the nimble ball-poacher and an Easter fixture – five years ago Brussow spearheaded the derailment of the Sharks’ Super Rugby campaign by starring in a comprehensive 31-6 thrashing.

Without over-emphasising his influence, Sharks director of rugby Jake White is still wary.

“He’s a great player, he’s played really well for them,” said White.

“They will get a lot of confidence out of him being back. It’s no different to us to get a Pat Lambie back for example. When we pick our big-name players, it gives us a massive boost.”

As fearsome as the 27-year-old’s reputation is, it hardly presents the Sharks with a new challenge.

“We’ve played against the Michael Hoopers, the Liam Gills, the Deon Stegmanns. The challenge is making sure whoever is in that open side role, must be looked after. We have Marcell Coetzee, so I’m sure they have their concerns as well,” said White.

The selection of Keegan Daniel at No 8 is, however, implicitly thought to be a measure to make the Sharks quicker at the breakdown though White insisted it was merely a “rotational” move.

Yet perhaps the bigger challenge for the Sharks is the ambiguous mindset the Cheetahs take into this game.

Coach Naka Drotske and skipper Adriaan Strauss both admitted that play-off ambitions are gone, which will either leave them deflated or liberated.

White added that their struggles aren’t necessarily down to just poor form.

“I don’t think they’ve succumbed to soft moments at all but when you’re so focussed on attack and turn the ball over, everyone is running support lines to the ball carrier. All of a sudden you have no one behind, so if there is a line break, your focus goes from attack to defence and you don’t have the numbers,” he noted.

“It’s just one of those balances. Every team tries to get the balance right. Teams who defend all the time try to improve their attack and vice-versa.”

The Sharks themselves have been far more pragmatic than audacious, though it’s clearly working for them.