Cheetahs preview 2013
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 12/02/13 11:14am
The Cheetahs were far more competitive last season than their 5-11 record suggests. The franchise picked up a staggering seven losing bonus points and crucially finished clear of the Lions to retain their place in the South African Conference.
But while this highlights the Cheetahs were no walkovers, it does raise questions over their staying power in matches.
If coach Naka Drotske can tighten things up in defence then the Cheetahs do have the firepower and attacking brand of rugby to trouble sides.
The loss of Juan Smith through injury is a real blow, so the pressure will be on the likes of Adriaan Strauss and Johan Goosen to lead their challenge.
Drotske has added South Africa Sevens international Cornal Hendricks, Joubert Engelbrecht, Johann Sadie and the experienced JP Nel to strengthen the back division, while the lively Sarel Pretorius returns after a disappointing season at the Waratahs.
However they have lost the likes of Ashley Johnson, WP Nel, Sias Ebersohn and Marcel van der Merwe, while a tough schedule means they will face both the Sharks and the Chiefs in the opening weeks.