Pro14's Top try-scorer swaps Cheetahs for Benetton
TRANSFER NEWS: The Cheetahs exodus is growing by the day with the Rhyno Smith the latest player to head North.
The Cheetahs confirmed that Smith has signed a two and half year deal with Italian side Benetton Treviso Rugby.
Smith has signed until June 30, 2023, with an option for a further year.
Smith is set to leave the franchise at the end of June 2021.
Smith was the top try scorer in last season’s PRO14, scoring 10 tries, six at home in Bloemfontein and four on the road. He was also one of the leading metre makers in the competition.
The Bloemfontein Union also confirmed that Smith’s teammate Carl Wegner is going to Italy; whose national coach knows both players well.
According to Hawies Fourie, the Cheetahs’ Director of Rugby, his team has adequate depth at fullback and wing to fill the void. Smith has not been given much playing time lately due to injuries.
Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster says while the Cheetahs are sorry to lose one of their top players, it is comforting to know that he will still be available until the completion of the “Franchise Cup” competition.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 27, 2021
Meanwhile, Cheetahs have added three new players to their roster when training resumes on February 3.
The 29-year-old lock, Rynier Bernardo, will be making a return to the Toyota Cheetahs following a stint abroad with the Canon Eagles in the Japanese Top League.
Jean Droste will be reporting for duty at the Toyota Cheetahs next week when the team begins with their preparations for the soon to be announced Franchise.
The 27-year-old lock previously played for the Sharks and the Bulls, while he also enjoyed a stint in the Japanese Top League with the Kubota Spears.
Droste says that he is thankful for the opportunity given to him at the Cheetahs and he looks forward to the new journey.
“I’m really looking forward to the stay in Bloemfontein and excited to get going with the team. With everything that is going on contracts are a bit difficult to come by. You need that opportunity to come your way.
“I’m thankful to the Cheetahs for giving me this opportunity to go out there play again and prove myself.
“For me, it is a good move to come to the Cheetahs and hopefully I will be able to get a lot of game time. I’m looking forward to the challenge, meeting everyone here, and the season that lies ahead. Whatever lies ahead we are not sure about yet, but looking forward to the unknown as well.”
The East London-born and bred loosehead prop, Alulutho Tshakweni, will also be joining the Cheetahs to bolster the front-row department.
Tshakweni is a former Junior Springbok and during the 2018 World Rugby under 20 Championship in France, he made five appearances for the Baby Boks.