Cheetahs coach Franco Smith will look to sign off his spell in Bloemfontein successfully by continuing their unbeaten run in the PRO14 against Munster.
The Cheetahs will go in search of their third successive victory when they take on Munster in Bloemfontein at 6:15pm on Friday.
Smith, who guided the Free Staters to two Currie Cup titles and the PRO14 playoffs in their opening season (2017-18), will wrap up his reign on a high note if his charges beat Munster, who are also unbeaten after two rounds, before handing over the coaching duties to Hawies Fourie.
Smith stood in during the opening rounds of the competition while Fourie recovered from an operation. His next coaching role will be as the new head coach of Italy’s national team.
‘For me it was always about good people, who make good players,’ said Smith.
‘If rugby is that vehicle, then that was the one dealt to me. Through experience and the way I see the game, I was able to contribute over the last six years and create a platform.
‘We wanted to play a good brand of rugby – a brand we could win and entertain with, and one people in the town and the stands could associate with. We wanted to create role models and heroes in society, and everyone I worked with here were exceptional people.
‘They always went out there and gave their hearts on the field, and I never doubted their commitment. They measure themselves on a very high standard, and as a coach that is the biggest thing. There was always 100 percent commitment week after week even though we didn’t get the results.
‘Regardless of what happens in the game, I can only thank them for buying into the game plan.’
Against Munster, Smith will come face-to-face with a coach he knows very well, South African Johann van Graan, whom he worked with at the Springboks in 2017. Despite Munster having 12 players at the Rugby World Cup, Smith believes the visitors have already shown how dangerous they are.
‘At the beginning of the season, they are a bit more disrupted than Ulster was and they have a bunch of new names,’ said Smith.
‘Knowing Johann very well, I know he is trying to blood a lot of players because he will need them again during the Six Nations.
‘I am sure he wants to test the depth in his squad, and there are some unknown names in their side, but they are a very organised and well-coached team. We know each other well, and he knows my philosophy.’
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