Smith turns down Boks as Duncan heads to Worcester

08 February 2018 - 20:34
By Craig Ray
Coach Franco Smith. File photo
Image: Gallo Images Coach Franco Smith. File photo

Springbok backline coach Franco Smith has apparently turned down an offer to stay on with the national team and will return to coaching the Cheetahs fulltime‚ it was confirmed on Thursday.

Current Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan has accepted an offer from English club Worcester Warriors to be their head coach from May. He will link up with his former Southern Kings mentor Alan Solomons‚ who is Director of Rugby at the club.

Smith‚ who was the Cheetahs’ coach during the last two Super Rugby campaigns‚ has been juggling two roles including Springbok duties.

After Allister Coetzee was sacked as Bok coach last week‚ Smith’s position was unclear.

The Cheetahs claim Smith was made an offer from SA Rugby to stay on‚ but he has chosen to focus his career in Bloemfontein for the time being.

Smith will not only coach the Cheetahs senior team‚ but also fulfil the role of Director of Rugby at the union.

“Free State Rugby had long interviews and discussions about the situation and the process was completed in good spirit‚” said Harold Verster‚ Managing Director of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd.

“Free State Rugby is excited and thankful that Franco made the decision to stay. His rugby expertise and coaching ability is invaluable to the Cheetahs.” Duncan has ably guided the Cheetahs to play off position in the PRO 14 competition after 13 rounds so far and will see out the campaign before moving to the Sixways Stadium in Worcester.

Worcester are currently 11th on the 12 team Premiership standings.

The former lock originally made the move into coaching in 2012 and joined the Free State Cheetahs in 2014 to coach their Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup teams.

He took on his current role midway through last year.

In his playing days Duncan represented the Sharks‚ before going on to play for the Cheetahs. He was part of the Cheetahs’ Currie Cup winning side in 2006‚ before captaining the team to another Currie Cup victory in 2007.

He then moved to Yamaha Jubilo in Japan before going on to captain the Eastern Province Kings‚ where he played underneath Warriors Director of Rugby Solomons.

Solomons said: “Rory was my captain at the Eastern Province Kings‚ where he showed outstanding leadership qualities and a clear ability to develop as a coach.

“When he retired at the end of the season I was able to assist him in his transition to coaching and we have remained in touch.

“As expected he has turned out to be an outstanding coach and I had no hesitation in appointing him to the Head Coach position at Warriors‚ an appointment which has been endorsed by our Chairman Bill Bolsover.”

Duncan said: “I am immensely excited about the challenge of moving to Warriors and linking up with Alan Solomons once again.

“Warriors are a Club with huge potential‚ which is clear for everyone to see‚ and I will be working hard with Alan and the rest of the coaching staff to help the Club move forward.”