Smith lures Cheetahs coaching brain to Italy
NEWS: Cheetah Kicking and Skills Coach Albert Keuris is another South African mentor that will join Italy ahead of the Six Nations.
Keuris will take up the role as a consultant of the Italian side coached by former Cheetahs coach Franco Smith.
Keuris, who will be focusing on skills and kicking, head to Italy from January 20 to 28.
He has a sound record coaching the Shimla Varsity Cup Winners in 2015, the Cheetahs in 2016 SuperRugby, Free State Cheetah Currie Cup Winners in 2016 as well as the 2017 SuperRugby team where he worked with two of the top three kickers in the competition; Niel Marais and Fred Zeilinga.
In 2017/18 PRO14 season, Fred Zeilinga won the Golden Boot, which was the best statistic in a decade of PRO Rugby, with two other players also in the Top 10.
In the 2018 Currie Cup, the Cheetahs had the second-highest kicking success in the competition and Tian Schoeman slotted the most conversions in the 2018/19 PRO14 seasons. In 2019 the Free State Cheetahs won the Currie Cup with a kicking rate of 80 percent.
Italy, who have not won a match in the tournament since 2015, open their Six Nations campaign against champions Wales on February 1 in Cardiff.
Meanwhile, Zebre hooker Luca Bigi has been selected to captain Italy in the Six Nations, taking over from the retiring Sergio Parisse, the Italian Rugby Federation announced on Monday.
The 28-year-old has played 24 times for the Azzurri since 2017. He joined Italian Pro14 side Zebre this season after four years with Benetton Rugby.
“I’m very emotional. I didn’t expect this choice. It’s a new adventure ahead of me and I’m thrilled to represent this team and my country,” Bigi told a press conference in Rome.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to lead the national team, even moreso to follow extraordinary athletes such as Parisse, [Leonardo] Ghiraldini, [Martin] Castrogiovanni, [Quintin] Geldenhuys or [Alessandro] Troncon.”
Bigi will replace Italy legend Parisse, 36, who holds a record of 142 Italy caps, and is expected to play in the home matches against Scotland on February 22 and England on March 14 before retiring from international rugby.
“We had the opportunity to identify a group of athletes who will have a leadership role within the team to help develop a culture within the group, entrusting the captain’s armband to Luca,” said new Italy coach Franco Smith.
“Luca has played for the two Italian [Pro14] franchises and knows the players well. Everyone respects him and he has demonstrated his willingness and ability to lead by example on the field.”
Toyota Cheetah Kicking- and Skills Coach, Albert Keuris, will be assisting the Italian National side from 20 to 28 January as a consultant at the training camp in preparation for the Guinness Six Nations. #BreedingGroundofOpportunity@ToyotaSA pic.twitter.com/T3qjLDTsHs
— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) January 19, 2020