Franco Smith – Naka’s successor

May 8 • General News, Super Rugby • 2531 Views • Comments Off on Franco Smith – Naka’s successor

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It is an exciting time with lots of developments and Free State Rugby is happy to announce that not only will Franco Smith be the Head Coach of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs for Currie Cup, but also that he will take over from Naka Drotske as Head Coach of the Toyota Cheetahs for Super Rugby.


His operations for the 2016 Super Rugby tournament will start on 1 November 2015.  He is appointed for a four year term.


Franco will have full say over the coaching of both the Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams of the Toyota Cheetahs and Toyota Free State Cheetahs.  He will also be a member of Free State Rugby‘s Coaching- and Rugby Committees and will have the privilege to appoint his assistant coaches and team management for the different competitions.


Franco is already an experienced coach and was part of the Cheetahs coaching and management team who won the Currie Cup in 2005 and 2006.  Franco has experience as a European coach with Treviso in Italy where he coached the team to three consecutive Italian championship victories and qualifying and participating in the Heineken Cup competition.  Franco also proven himself through coaching the Shimlas to their first ever Varsity Cup championship in 2015.


Smith is a son of the Free State who made his mark as a player when he represented South Africa in 18 matches and 9 Test matches.  He further represented the Free State, Griquas, Blue Bulls and Pumas in the Currie Cup and also the Bulls on Super Rugby level.


“We wish Franco Smith the best of luck with his new role and look forward to a new era in Cheetah Rugby with Franco and his coaching team for the next four years.” Mr. Harold Verster, Managing Director of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd.


Franco’s support staff 


Corniel van Zyl has been earmarked to take the position as forwards coach for the Toyota Cheetahs. Van Zyl is no stranger to Free State.   He was part of the Cheetah team who won the Currie Cup in 2005, 2006 and 2007.  Corniel continued his rugby career at Treviso and represented Italy in the 2011 World Cup and played in seven Tests for Italy.  Corniel is currently a player/coach with the Italian club, Treviso.  He will be relocating to Bloemfontein in the next two months. The rest of the support staff that did duty in 2014 Currie Cup campaign will stay intact.

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