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The Cheetahs, in stark contrast, will field a very youthful side as new coach Franco Smith continues the rebuilding phase started in last year’s Currie Cup.
Despite their apparent superiority, the Jaguares are somewhat apprehensive.
“The Cheetahs are evolving as a team and it is our debut in the tournament, which brings with it some anxiety,” Jaguares coach Raúl Perez said.
“We are well prepared and aware of what can happen.”
He felt the Cheetahs would play with freedom, as they do not have the weight of expectation on them.
Perez said they have made some adjustments from their pre-season outings – which included a loss to the Stormers and a win over the Lions.
“We always try to evolve and from game to game we will be adjusting our system.”
The key for the Cheetahs will be Springbok lock Lodewyk de Jager, who is expected to be named South African Player of the Year for 2015 on Thursday.
“He’s brought good attitude,” Smith said about the star lock.
The coach added that he will not be adding pressure on the players by setting unrealistic goals.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play to our strengths and please our crowd,” Smith said, adding: “I think that is going to be the most important thing.”
Prediction: The Cheetahs have won only three of their last 17 matches against teams from outside of South Africa. After winning their final match of the 2015 season the Cheetahs will be looking to secure consecutive victories for the first time since their opening two matches last season. The Cheetahs made an average of 133 tackles per game last season, nine more than any other team in the competition (Hurricanes 124). The Cheetahs (33.2) were the only team last season to concede an average of more than 30 points per game despite being ranked right in the middle of the pack (eighth) for tackling efficiency (86 percent). The Cheetahs have won only two of their last eight matches hosting a team from outside of South Africa on home soil in the Super Rugby and not since Round 19, 2013 have they won such a fixture by more than six points. The Cheetahs will have their work cut out and the Jaguares should win by at least 15 points.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Paul Schoeman, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Niel Marais.
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Matías Orlando.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)