Following their defeat to the Sharks, the Cheetahs have been dealt a further blow with Juan Smith set to miss the rest of the Currie Cup.
Smith was unavailable for the trip to Durban because of a hamstring injury. Unfortunately, the Springbok flank suffered a freak accident on his farm by pulling a crucial medial ligament in his knee while getting out of his bakkie.
Head coach Naka Drotske says the Cheetahs will have to continue to progress, despite losing one of their Springboks at this vital stage of the competition.
‘It’s a big blow because he is our best player,’ he told keo.co.za, ‘but one thing I have learnt this season is to give the other players an opportunity in these cases and try to move on.’
The Cheetahs do have depth in the loose forward department, with players such as Hendro Scholtz, Kabamba Floors, Johan Wessels and Ashley Johnson there to fill in. But Drotske admitted Smith’s lineout capabilities and experience are aspects they will lack.
‘We have a lot of loose forwards, but the area that will be affected the most is the lineout. Juan provides an extra option and the other guys aren’t really lineout specialists.
‘He’s our number one Springbok and he will be missed.’
Skipper Adriaan Strauss added that Smith’s leadership and contribution to the team will also be a massive loss.
‘He’s a great leader and one can feel his presence everywhere he goes, whether it’s during training or during a game.’
Smith has been ruled for six weeks which could jeopardise his selection for the end-of-year tour in November. This would create an opportunity for fringe players such as Jean Deysel, Deon Stegmann, Dewald Potgieter and Duane Vermeulen to prove their worth in a Springbok jersey.
By Gareth Duncan