The Free Staters travel to Wales next week to face Ospreys in Swansea, and with their slow adaption to the UK conditions contributing to the team’s loss of momentum after a strong start to the season in which they recorded three back-to-back wins, Fourie is ensuring they prepare adequately to return to their winning ways.
“Not adapting our game to northern hemisphere conditions is definitely a big part of the reason why we haven’t won since we last played in Bloemfontein,” said Fourie.
“It is difficult not to throw the ball around at training on dry surfaces under blue skies in temperatures of 30 degrees. Everything works well then, but when you go overseas this doesn’t work.
“You simply cannot play the same brand of rugby in the overseas games and expect to win. We need to understand that, and the guys are starting to do so and are improving, but we are still not up to scratch with it.”
Adding to the challenge for Fourie on his first northern hemisphere tour with the Toyota Cheetahs, the weather conspired against his team during their three weeks on the road.
“There was only one training day where it drizzled a bit while we were there, but the rest of the time we had clear weather,” he said. “It was cold, but the skies were clear and it wasn’t wet. But then it rained on the weekend and we had to adapt.
“We are getting there, and hopefully in the next game we get it right. It is imperative that we do as we are in a tough group and can't afford to fall behind.
“We have been trying things like putting balls in buckets of water. That makes the ball wet and gets the players used to handling a wet ball. Once you get used to playing with a ball that is a bit slippery it builds confidence in passing, and your halfbacks get confidence in putting distance into their passes.”
The Cheetahs will be close to full strength for their trip to Swansea, with No 8 Jasper Wiese being the only regular player to miss the clash as he is serving a three week suspension for a dangerous challenge in a ruck against the Cardiff Blues. They could also receive a potential boost with the possible return of Springbok looseforward Oupa Mohoje from injury.
“Oupa may be back, we will check on him before we finalise the travelling squad,” said Fourie. “Obviously we’d welcome his experience.”