Cheetahs coach stays home for Lions ambush

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:17
Large franco smith looks 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith places so much value on winning the Currie Cup that he opted to stay home, rather than attend a SANZAR conference.

In stark contrast, the defending champion Golden Lions will arrive in Bloemfontein on Thursday, for a crucial Currie Cup league fixture, without head coach Johan Ackermann.

Ackermann and Golden Lions Rugby Union CEO Rudolph Straeuli headed to Sydney earlier this week for a four-day Super Rugby review session.

The Lions were left in the hands of assistant coach Swys de Bruin.

The decision by Ackermann to head to Sydney, for a series of meetings designed to review all aspects of Super Rugby, says a lot of how much faith they have placed in their coaching structures.

However, the Cheetahs mentor, Smith, sees it differently.

"[Director of Rugby] Rory Duncan will represent the Free State [Cheetahs] in Sydney," Smith told rugby365 in an interview ahead of the Round Seven crunch match.

"The Currie Cup is very important to us and that is why I did not travel to Sydney," he added.

The biggest problem for the Cheetahs is that they have had one day less to prepare.

The Lions played Western Province last Friday and raced to a 58-32 victory in Johannesburg. They started their build-up to Thursday's game this past Sunday already - allowing them a 'normal week' of preparation.

The Cheetahs, in contrast, travelled to Durban on Saturday, where they beat the Sharks 38-30, before heading back to Bloemfontein on Sunday. Their build-up only started on Monday.

Smith said, despite the short week, it won't influence their approach.

"It is deep into the season, so there is not that much to do," he told rugby365, adding: "Our focus would be to ensure all the players are fresh and well organised.

"I don't see the short week as a major issue."

Smith felt the Lions, despite having lost twice already this season and sitting outside the play-off positions, remain the team to beat.

"Everybody in South Africa knows that. Not only are they the defending [Currie Cu] champions, but they were also South Africa's best team in Super Rugby."

He added that the pace they play and the way they keep the ball alive is their biggest asset.

"We will have to be very good to match them," the Cheetahs coach said.

* Meanwhile it was confirmed that lock Carl Wegner is unlikely to feature in the Currie Cup season again after a recent neck injury proved to be more serious than first thought.

By Jan de Koning
@King365ed
@rugby365com

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26