If the Cheetahs were playing out a fairy tale, the threat of being cut from Super Rugby would inspire them to beat every opponent.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in the real world.
As the South African Rugby Union (Saru) gradually moves closer to determining which two local sides will be banished, so does the nervousness of the central franchise increase.
And when players have to play for their livelihoods, they make mistakes.
That’s why the Cheetahs aren’t playing consistently in this campaign.
“The uncertainty has affected the spontaneity of the players on the field, as well as their creativity,” coach Franco Smith told Rugby 365.
“Sometimes they try too hard and try to make the correct decision, instead of just making a decision. It’s an important difference.”
Yet Smith, who newly appointed Springbok assistant coach, also believes that his players are starting to deal with it.
“We’ve worked really hard to stop focusing on being perfectionists,” he said.
“We’re facing it and dealing with it.”
Of course, the flip side of the coin is the acceptance that the Cheetahs can’t avoid all the off-field shenanigans anymore and simply have to just keep playing.
Keeping it that simple is not necessarily a bad thing.
“It will remain a tough issue to deal with, but I feel the players will believe they can rise above it and express themselves on the field,” said Smith.
“They’re used to the uncertainty now. We will work on ensuring it doesn’t add to the pressure.”