Franco Smith handed the Cheetahs' keys over to his successor Hawies Fourie. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Toyota Cheetahs coach Franco Smith ended his tenure with the Free State franchise on a high with the team winning their first three matches of the Guinness PRO14 competition. 

Smith handed Hawies Fourie the keys to the team on Monday to take up the Italian national coaching position.

“It’s Hawies’ team now, and compliments must go to the coaching staff and players for believing in what we set out to do,” Smith said. “If they didn’t buy into the vision, then we wouldn’t be where we are. I’m grateful for the hard work they put in.

“With their ability to adapt, they are growing as individuals. That is what this team needs, to keep growing to get better, especially away from home.”

Fourie’s arrival in Bloemfontein was delayed due to a medical condition with Smith holding the fort after he coached the Free State Cheetahs to Currie Cup glory. 

The pressure will be on Fourie as he takes the reins of a high-flying team topping their conference after scoring 22 tries and conceding only seven in three matches.

Smith said while he expected Fourie to put his stamp on the team, he would be available if his successor needed any help. 

“Hawies and I did speak, and I’m a sounding board now. I will help wherever I can,” Smith said.

“He did a lot of effort to be with the team and not impose himself and understand what we are doing. I’m there for him and want to help. I’m here to the end of November. If he asks me to help, of course, I’m here to help.”

@ockertde

 

The Star

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