Venter, Smith 'dismiss' Lions coaching rumours
REACTION: Denials all-round. This is the reaction to reports that the Lions are about to 'discard' one of their most successfully coaches.
Media reports suggested attack coach Swys de Bruin, one of the most celebrated members of the highly successful Lions coaching team, is heading to Cape Town - because he is no longer wanted in Johannesburg.
According to the report Cheetahs and Springbok attack coach Franco Smith has been earmarked to take over as Lions head coach from Johan Ackermann, who will head to English Premiership club Gloucester after the completion of the Super Rugby season.
Bok defence consultant Brendan Venter has also been linked to a permanent position at Ellis Park.
However, Venter and Smith have both publicly distanced themselves from the report and said
"To end speculation, I still believe in @CheetahsRugby," Smith said on his twitter feed.
He added that he is "grateful" for the opportunity to be part of the Springbok coaching panel.
"Lions not an option," he said.
Venter's reaction was in a similar vein.
"I am fascinated, by reports suggesting I am joining the Lions," Venter said.
"They are a great team, but in Swys have the perfect replacement for Ackers [Ackermann].
"I have no desire to be a full time rugby coach at this stage of my life. My boys are at school and my medical practice is my priority."
Meanwhile Harold Verster, CEO of the Cheetahs, also dismissed the reports that Smith is leaving Bloemfontein.
"It is factually inaccurate," Verster said.
"Franco [Smith] has a contract with us till 2020.
"We have plans for him for the future and he will slot into a very senior position [at the Cheetahs] and he will remain with the Springboks.
"Should he depart [from the Cheetahs], he will forfeit his Springbok contract, because that is the agreement with us.
"Franco also gave me an assurance that he is going nowhere. There is no doubt that he is with us and will remain [with the Cheetahs]."
Verster said the issue they had to resolve was Smith's involvement with the Springboks and how he fits in at the Boks and the Cheetahs.
"That has been carefully set out," the Cheetahs boss said.
Rudolf Straeuli, CEO of Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd, also dismissed the reports - labelling them "malicious rumour mongering".
I am fascinated but reports suggesting i am joining the Lions.They are a great team but in Swys have the perfect replacement for Ackers.— Brendan Venter (@BrendanVenter) July 6, 2017
I have no desire to be a full time rugby coach at this stage of my life.My boys are at school and my medical practice is my priority.— Brendan Venter (@BrendanVenter) July 6, 2017
I do wonder how anybody with any credibility can speculate about Franco or my involvement without asking our opinion.Just stating the facts— Brendan Venter (@BrendanVenter) July 6, 2017