Smith: The North can enhance SA Rugby
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Cheetahs Director of Rugby and Springboks assistant coach Franco Smith believes playing in the Northern Hemisphere can strengthen South African rugby.
The Cheetahs - along with the Southern Kings - are set to join the Pro12 competition, which will be modified to the new Pro14.
The formal announcement will occur next week after all documents have been finalised.
"We going to experience different cultures and different styles of play," said Smith.
"The conditions in Europe is so much different, but it will develop another skill set which South African rugby needs. I think the whole of South Africa is excited about what is going to occur next [week]."
A move like this does place a lot of uncertainties among players in the Cheetahs youth ranks, particularly when senior players are also opting for greener pastures.
However, it seems that with the Cheetahs being axed from the Super Rugby, it has ignited the union to shift their focus.
The Cheetahs have been known to feed other unions with key players. Thus, heading north could pose more of a threat with European clubs' lucrative contracts luring players from the Cheetahs.
The recent official launch of the Cheetahs Academy and Director of Rugby Franco Smith's visit to Craven Week Under-18 tournament in Johannesburg has shown that the Bloemfontein union is eager to hold onto their young talent despite facing mammoth changes.
"It was important for me [as Director of Rugby] to get the message across to them that the Cheetahs' future is bright," Smith told the media at the official launch of the Cheetahs Academy.
"My time spent there [at Craven Week] was to encourage the guys to come and see what we about. The talent presented in the Cheetahs Craven Week side was tremendous, they adapted to the [senior's] brand of rugby, thus I believe the academy is just a way of taking that step further.
"The Cheetahs players are privileged to have a different opportunity, which other teams in South Africa are not fortunate to receive."
By Leezil Hendricks