Franco to stay on as coach

Franco Smith will remain on as the Toyota Cheetahs coach for at least the first three matches of the Guinness PRO14. PHOTO: JAMES CROMBIE/INPHO

The Toyota Cheetahs coach, Franco Smith, will stay on in the role at the franchise for a bit longer after the team has won the Currie Cup for a sixth time on Saturday. The match in Bloemfontein was meant to be Smith’s swansong, however, due to medical reasons, Hawies Fourie is unable to take over at this point in time.

Smith, who will be taking charge on the Italian national side in January, will only be leaving the Cheetahs at the end of October and he has agreed to carry on helping out in the coaching capacity.

Fourie was released from the hospital last week after undergoing surgery. He will consult the specialist on 30 September, but until then he may not work. He was scheduled to take over the reins from this week, but that is on ice for the time being.

Smith told Bloemfontein Courant that Fourie could take over in the role for the first tour in which the team will face Connacht, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues.

I feel for Hawies because I know that he would have loved to start now. From the beginning we said that he and I would work with each other as closely as possible to make the transition as smooth as possible. It is, however, an opportunity to take a bit of the continuity into the PRO14, and try and make the disruption as little as possible.

“There is another opportunity after the first three rounds when the guys will be preparing for the first tour overseas. There will be a break during that period and I think by then he will be well enough. He will probably come and join us as soon as possible and then we will hand it over to him.”

The Cheetahs are enjoying a bit of break now before the fine-tuning starts for the international competition. Smith added that for now, the most important thing is for the players to get some well-earned rest. “The guys who have not been involved with us will start on Monday the 16th, while the regular players will only start training again on Thursday or Friday.

“They have played for eight weeks in a row and before that they also had a big preseason. We want to give them as much time as possible.We will just align everybody and get them to fire again, but for now the best thing for us is for the guys to have a break and enjoy a bit of time away from rugby.”

Players that weren’t involved in the Cheetahs Currie Cup campaign and will be new additions to the squad, are Craig Barry, Rhyno Smith, Chris Massyn, Chris Smit and Wilmar Arnoldi. Players who will be linking up with the Cheetahs on loan, are George Whitehead, Sias Koen, Anthony Volmink and Khwezi Mona.

The Cheetahs open their campaign on 27 September in Bloemfontein against the Glasgow Warriors in Bloemfontein. – MORGAN PIEK