| Cheetahs’ Smith hoping for perfect parting gift

Cape Town – Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is hoping for the perfect swansong in Saturday’s Currie Cup final before resuming his coaching career in Italy.

It will be a bittersweet occasion for Smith, who began his coaching involvement with the Cheetahs 14 years ago, though it was interrupted by a stint with Treviso in Italy between 2007 and 2013.

The 47-year-old coach will head back to Italy after the World Cup to take up an assistant coaching job with the country’s national team.

But before that he can give the Cheetahs the perfect parting gift by beating the Lions in the Currie Cup final.

After that he will hand over the reins to Hawies Fourie, who will take charge when the PRO14 gets underway at the end of the month.

“It is a privilege and an honour to play in the final,” Smith said.

Smith was also confident that the Cheetahs have what it takes to compete in the PRO14, regardless of how things go in the Currie Cup.

“They showed that, taking this team into the PRO14, they have the ability to roll teams over – if they stick to the plan and what we believe in,” Smith said.

Reflecting on his side’s 51-30 demolition job of the Sharks in the semi-finals over the weekend, Smith said keeping calm despiting being nine points behind at half-time was key to the victory.

“We fought hard in the second half and I am proud to be part of this really special team,” he said.

“I was impressed by how calm they were at half-time even though we were nine points behind.

“Retaining possession was a key part of our second-half strategy and we achieved that goal,” said Smith.

“We were also much more clinical than in the first half.

“Now, we must prepare from Monday to face a really good Lions side in the final. Scoring 51 points were great but we have to keep our feet firmly on the ground.”

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00.

– TeamTalk

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