MJ Smith handed Currie Cup job

MJ Smith has been appointed as head coach of the Free State Cheetahs for their 2016 Currie Cup campaign.

Smith, younger brother of the Cheetahs' Vodacom Super Rugby coach Franco, will oversee the first part of the Currie Cup before handing the reins back to his brother for the second part of the season, once Super Rugby has been concluded.

This comes after the announcement of an expanded Currie Cup tournament from next year, which will see the domestic competition run concurrently with Super Rugby. 

Free State director of rugby Rory Duncan told Netwerk24 that the move is to keep continuity within both teams.

'As it stands, MJ will coach the first round and Franco will take over later. At the moment our philosophy is to implement and use the same coaching structures across the board,' said Duncan. 

The 40-year-old Smith, who was in charge of the Free State U21 team in 2015, will be assisted by Izak van der Westhuizen (forwards coach), Sino Ganto (backline coach) and KK Hlongwane (team manager).

Duncan also confirmed that all the players are training together and will only be divided into Super Rugby and Currie Cup squads next year.

Photo: Netwerk24

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Mariette Adams