Taken time to play like champs: Smith


Speaking after his side’s glorious 36-16 victory, Smith said the clash was a typical South African final in which pressure forced his side into errors.

“Inside I am bursting with pride and joy, it was brilliant. But we saw tonight that when we were under pressure there were some errors and old (errant) ways arising. It has taken us time to reach this point (to produce championship rugby) and it is going to take more time for further improvement.

“I thought it will be a high-scoring game, with more tries but it was a typical South African final. Once the players got going, the Bulls closed space down well and I must compliment them for the way they did it.

“Hopefully, South African rugby can go in that direction and if we (Cheetahs) can play a part in helping there it will be tremendous.”

Winning the Currie Cup was another milestone in Smith’s coaching career after the former Springbok retired as a player in 2006.

“As a player, I was very blessed and I enjoyed lots of good times on the field. I thought that by coaching I can give back (to the game) and I had a great start to my career when Rassie Erasmus involved me with the Cheetahs from 2005.

“In 2007, I went abroad (Italy) to become a better coach and it was worthwhile.

“I will always be grateful to the Cheetahs for giving me a chance and for the first two years here I’ve learnt a lot.

“One of my dreams was to play this (Free State) stadium full and we succeeded tonight. Thanks to the fans for coming out and believing in what we are doing here.”

One of the Cheetahs’ heroes on the night was the speedy winger Sergeal Petersen, who was afterwards named in the Springbok tour squad.

Petersen thought the Cheetahs were “phenomenal” and felt the team drew heavily on the crowd support.

“The performance the boys put out today was just phenomenal. Thanks to the crowd as well because their energy radiated on the field for us.

“We didn’t shy away from our systems and our gameplan. I think the way we managed the game was great. We took the points when it was there so it was just a phenomenal performance from the boys.”


Original source: Taken time to play like champs: Smith