Franco commits to Cheetahs

Franco Smith has confirmed his commitment to the Cheetahs and says he still has ‘unfinished business’ at the Bloemfontein-based franchise. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Chatting to on Friday, Smith emphatically refuted reports linking him to a coaching role at the Lions, while expressing his desire to continue contributing to Cheetahs rugby.

On Friday, it was confirmed that the Cheetahs are one of the two South African sides that will no longer compete in Super Rugby from next year, with the Free State outfit now set to join a revamped Pro12 competition in Europe.

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Smith said he continued to believe it was very important for South African rugby that the Cheetahs remained strong, and he wanted to help ensure that this would continue to be the case.

‘I still believe there is a role for me to play at the Cheetahs and I still want to contribute here. We started on a new journey a couple of years ago, and I want to continue with that because I believe it’s important for the Cheetahs to remain a force, and for players to know that there is still a healthy future here.’

However, with Smith also remaining committed to the Boks as an assistant coach, it’s likely that his role will need to change somewhat at the Cheetahs.

Besides the fact that there are stages of the Currie Cup and Pro12 that could overlap, Smith will also be with the Boks during their November end-of-year Tests.

Smith may well move into a director of rugby role at the Cheetahs, with Rory Duncan extending his coaching role, but these details are likely to be ironed out in the near future.

For now, Smith said he was determined to continue doing what he could for Cheetahs rugby.

‘I have coached in the Pro12 before, and I know the nature of that competition. I think we’ve established a good culture and work ethic here at the Cheetahs, and so I want to continue helping to develop players here and imparting whatever knowledge I can.’

And was there any likelihood of Smith heading to the Lions?

'No, not all,' he stated.

Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis