Smith’s messagee to Cheetahs – have fun

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The new Cheetahs coach, who took over from Naka Drotske this week, will be in charge for the first time when his team face the defending champions, the Waratahs, in a Super Rugby match in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Smith says his team has to play with enthusiasm and have no fear when they run onto the field.

“The players must get pleasure out of playing rugby, they must have fun.

“None of these guys decided to play rugby to only make a living out of it. They had smiles on their faces and enjoyed it when they scored tries.

“I told my players the other day that the objective in golf is to get the ball in the hole. Well, the objective in rugby is to score tries.

“I want the guys to go out there, throw the negativity aside, work hard and enjoy it. Sure, certain principles will always have to be maintained, like doing your set-pieces well and executing the game-plan, but the pleasure of playing the game must return.”

Smith admits he has a big challenge ahead of him. “I’m excited for what lies ahead. It’s a privilege for me to be here in the position I am, but I’ve got big shoes to fill,” he said.

“I’m realistic about the challenges. I can’t change things in a week, but we’ve set new goals, the first of which is getting the players to believe in themselves. I want to get the enthusiasm back into the team and we’ll start doing that in the next two games and carry on in the Currie Cup.”

Skipper Francois Uys said these are exciting times in Cheetahs rugby. “We got to know what Franco is all about during last year’s Currie Cup so we know what to expect from him. He’s a really enthusiastic guy and all the players are keen to kick off this new chapter on a high.”

The Cheetahs were dealt bad news this week when it was revealed Willie le Roux and Cornal Hendricks are leaving the union, while Heinrich Brüssow also won’t be back next season. Joe Pietersen is also heading to the Sharks. And, for the next two weekends Smith will have to do without his Griquas players who’re preparing for the Currie Cup Premier Division play-offs.

As expected, Smith has called up Shimlas Varsity Cup winning players Niel Marais, Neill Jordaan and Elandré Huggett for Saturday’s match against the defending champions.

Marais, the 23-year-old flyhalf who had the game of his life against Pukke in the Varsity Cup final, has been tasked to lead the backline against a star-studded Waratahs team. It will be the biggest match of his young career.

Cheetahs: Coenie van Wyk, Sergeal Petersen, Francois Venter, Rayno Benjamin, Cornal Hendricks, Niel Marais, Sarel Pretorius, Neill Jordaan, Tienie Burger, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys (capt), Carl Wegner, Maks van Dyk, Torsten van Jaarsveld, BG Uys. Replacements: Elandré Huggett, Danie Mienie, Ewald van der Westhuizen, Steven Sykes, Willie Britz, Henco Venter, Shaun Venter, Joe Pietersen. - The Star

Original source: Smith’s messagee to Cheetahs - have fun

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