Smith trying to keep sinking Cheetahs upbeat
From the highs of the Springboks to the lows of the Cheetahs – welcome to the life of coach Franco Smith.
The next two games in Super Rugby are likely the Cheetahs’ last. Smith enjoyed a beer with the Boks on Saturday night after beating France 35-12 in the third Test at Ellis Park‚ and then turned his focus to the Cheetahs on Sunday morning.
They have two matches to play – against the Stormers and Kings.
Only pride is on the line‚ but that’s enough of a thread for Smith and the Cheetahs to hang on to.
“The goal is to finish off on a high because we don't know what the future of the franchise holds‚” Smith said.
“It might be the last time the Cheetahs play in Super Rugby.
“Our last game is against the Kings in Port Elizabeth and it could be the last time in the competition for both teams‚ so it will be an emotional few weeks as well.
“But the Currie Cup starts immediately after Super Rugby‚ so we have to look forward to that as well despite all the uncertainty at the moment.
“The reality of our situation is setting in for the guys now‚ so it will be tough to keep the eye on the ball. My main challenge is to make sure the guys stay focused.”
The Cheetahs had several players involved in the SA 'A' and Springboks teams in June‚ while the rest took part in the Beachcomber World Club 10s in Mauritius‚ where the Cheetahs finished runners-up to the Bulls.
Although Smith is staying upbeat‚ injury problems have also set in. “The break was good for the players not involved in international duty and we have a different motivation for the match against the Stormers‚” Smith said.
“They are into the play-offs and will be building towards that and we have to finish on a high. “We have a few injuries too.
"Hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld suffered a bulging disc in his neck‚ which he sustained playing for Namibia in the international season.
“(Bok flank) Oupa Mohoje is still getting through concussion protocols and lock Carl Wegner suffered a blow to the eye during training on Tuesday.
"We are having him checked out for eye socket damage.
“Francois Uys (lock) is leaving for France this week and (flank) Paul Schoeman is still suffering from deep vein thrombosis picked up on a flight during our away tour before the June break. We have some challenges.”
On the up side‚ the Blitzboks trio of Cecil Afrika‚ Chris Dry and Rosko Specman have joined the team in a short-term basis. Specman won’t be available for the Stormers clash due to injury sustained in Mauritius but Dry and Afrika will come into selection reckoning.