Western Province forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot believes his pack will have to be at their physical best to counter the "firepower" of the Cheetahs' four returning Springboks this weekend.
The Cheetahs pack has been bolstered by the release of forwards Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen, Ashley Johnson and Heinrich Brüssow from the Springbok camp and Proudfoot said that his team will have to work hard to keep up with them in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Cape side impressed with their physicality against the Blue Bulls at Newlands last week and Proudfoot is calling for a similar effort from his youthful charges if they are to upset the Cheetahs at home.
He told this website: "The same preparation is going to have to go into this week, to make sure that the guys are confident come Saturday that they can look to be as physical against the Cheetahs [as they were against the Blue Bulls] because with those four Boks coming back it increases the stakes a helluva lot in that game.
"That is a Super 15 front row and Ashley Johnson was probably one of the form flankers in the Super 15. His work rate and ball carrying was really good and then Brüssowtjie is in a league of his own when it comes to that openside role.
"What those four players bring to that side is a lot of firepower. The ball carrying of Coenie [Oosthuizen] and WP [Nel] as well as the work rate that Adriaan Strauss brings, that is definitely going to add to their abilities and their physicality up front," he added.
The Cheetahs have yet to put an 80 minute performance together this season, but that does not mean that Western Province will be taking anything for granted, for as Proudfoot points out - when they get it right they can be devastating.
He explained: "They probably weren't that happy with those two forty minute spells in their last two games - the second forty against the Bulls and maybe the first forty against the Sharks.
"They would probably like to put those two games together and have the first forty against the Bulls and the second forty against the Sharks and that is the way we expect them to play," said Proudfoot.
The Western Province assistant coach is expecting the Cheetahs to produce their familiar high-tempo game this weekend and he said that his team's fitness levels will be tested to the limits.
"They are particularly dangerous in the second half in Bloemfontein, they tend to try and run you off your feet so that in the second half you just can't keep up anymore so that is definitely their plan at home and we are going to have to be good to counter that.
"If you play in the wrong areas and turn the ball over then they are going to score against you. So I think we have to be really forceful and crisp and execute really well," said Proudfoot.
Western Province earned high praise for the quality of their performance last weekend when they demolished the Blue Bulls at Newlands, but Proudfoot says that there is plenty that they can, and must, improve on this weekend.
He explained: "We still weren't happy with our first phase execution - that needs to improve, our discipline was a little bit over the top, our work rate needs to improve on attack, and we need to keep hold of the ball for longer so there are a lot of areas that need to improve.
"The biggest thing that we are looking for is an improvement this week in our execution and physicality again, what is coming in the next couple of weeks is going to demand that," said Proudfoot.
By Michael de Vries
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