The South African players with the best form at the World Cup will pose the biggest threat in the Currie Cup play-offs and for the Free State Cheetahs that is bad news.
The Cheetahs travel to Durban on Saturday to tackle the Sharks in the first of the two semifinals in the country's premier domestic competition, with almost all of the form Springboks featuring in the Sharks team.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské felt his team would need to get physical against their star-studded opponents - who last week put more than 50 points past the table-topping Lions at the same venue last week.
"With their Boks back it makes a huge difference," Drotské told this website, when asked about the physical nature of encounters between the Sharks and Cheetahs in recent years.
"Of those Boks who have come back [into the Currie Cup], the guys with the best form - for the national team - have been Patrick Lambie, Bismarck and Jannie [du Plessis brothers], who along with Willem Alberts ... all guys who did really well at the World Cup," he said,
"They will make the biggest impact, so we will have to be very physical and you can't allow those guys any momentum."
The Cheetahs have six internationals in their starting XV for Saturday - Ryno Benjamin (SA Sevens), Robert Ebersohn (SA Sevens), Andries Strauss (Bok tourist), Boom Prinsloo (SA Sevens), Ashley Johnson (Bok) and Adriaan Strauss (Bok) - but their only World Cup Bok, Heinrich Brüssow, is out injured.
The key players for the Cheetahs will be the likes of Adriaan Strauss and Johnson, who will have to match the physicality that comes with the Sharks' Bok-muscle.
Drotské also felt that tactics would be critical on Saturday.
"In the semifinals you probably do play a little different," he said, adding: "There is usually more tactical kicking and penalties.
"Discipline will play a major role and so will goal-kicks.
"Those, along with defence, will be key aspects in any semifinal."
By Jan de Koning
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