Juan Smith tore his Achilles tendon in the Cheetahs’ 25-23 defeat to the Bulls, an injury that is likely to rule him out of the upcoming World Cup.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie confirmed that Smith suffered the serious injury in the Bloemfontein clash on Friday night, a week after recovering from a calf strain that kept him out of the Super Rugby opener against the Sharks. The blindside flank will now miss the rest of the Super Rugby campaign and the Springboks’ World Cup title defence in September as he will be out for six to nine months.
To add to the Cheetahs’ woes, flanker Frans Viljoen picked up a hamstring injury which will sideline him for a lenghty period.
‘This is a big blow for us as we will now be without Juan, Frans and hooker Adriaan Strauss [broken hand, five to six weeks] for a while. We will just need to depend on our reserve players to fill in, like we did last season when we also suffered many injuries,’ Fourie told keo.co.za.
Smith’s injury will be a major setback for the Boks as he has been a key feature at blindside flank. The 69-Test veteran, who was part of the loose trio that helped win the World Cup in 2007, provides the team with a wealth of experience and leadership up front. Sharks flankers Willem Alberts amd Jean Deysel are strong candidates who will have to fill in this season. Even Stormers loose forward Francois Louw is capable of playing in the No 7 jumper.
By Gareth Duncan