Photo by Marc King Key
Two players will reach a rugby milestone as their respective South African franchises begin crucial tours of Ireland and Wales this weekend.
Toyota Cheetahs prop Aranos Coetzee and Isuzu Southern Kings loose forward Ruan Lerm will both rack up their 50th appearances this weekend as both teams leave South African shores in search of crucial log points. Coetzee will be playing in his 50th PRO14 game while Lerm will make his 50th appearance for the Isuzu Southern Kings.
Coetzee will accompany his Cheetahs team to face defending champions Leinster, who are an unbelievable unbeaten run this season while Lerm’s Kings’ side head to take on Munster on Friday night as they try and shake off the setback of two derby losses to the Cheetahs a fortnight ago.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie believes that Coetzee is a key member of his side at the moment and the calmness he gives the side in the setpiece has seen it become one of their attacking weapons, and certainly one they will need to use on Saturday in Dublin if they are to defy the odds and end Leinster’s run.
Fourie said the duo of Coetzee and Luan de Bruin, who played his 50th game two weeks ago, gives the Cheetahs a significant advantage in the setpieces.
“He is one of the best scrummagers in the competition and that helps us a lot. A lot of teams scrum for penalties in the competition and that puts you under pressure if your tighthead is not up to standard. The big thing there for me is Luan (de Bruin) is very close to Aranos. I think in the scrum Aranos is better but in general play Luan is an exceptional tighthead, so they complement each other,” Fourie explained.
While they will be firm underdogs given Leinster’s form, Fourie believes that the key factor for his team is their attitude and whether they give themselves a chance against a Leinster side missing some Irish internationals.
“I think it is important to approach every game in the right way. If you have already lost the game in your head before you get out onto the field, then why even travel? Why not stay in Bloemfontein?
“We are going there with the knowledge they are the strongest team in the competition, but we know if we pitch up on the day, then we will have a chance to win. And if you don’t think you have a chance to win, then you might as well not be in this competition.”
While the venue at RDS Stadium is a new one for his side, they believe their own form will be a closer determination of how they will fare.
“For myself and maybe half of our squad, most of the venues are new so we don’t focus on that to much. We focused last week on what we wanted to do on the field. We have to play well, we can’t think too much about what they are going to do, we have to play well and apply pressure on them and that will give us the chance to win the game.”
Lerm’s side are looking to bounce back from their loss to the Cheetahs and believe they will be able to surprise Munster on their home ground, especially as a number of Irish Internationals are not available.
The game in Port Elizabeth last year was a close one that the Kings believe they should have won and that gives them confidence going into this fixture.
Lerm will be looking to contribute for his team in helping them achieve this aim, and was “humbled and excited” by the news of his 50th cap.
“It is something special for me and something that I’ve looked forward to. When you start playing you look up to the greats and see them getting their 50th and 100th caps, so it is something that is humbling and something I’m looking forward to,” he said.