The Cheetahs’ nightmare Super 14 tour of Australasia has gone from bad to worse. They will tackle the three remaining matches without inspirational captain Juan Smith.
Smith, following his team’s 3-22 loss against the Reds on Sunday, was taken to hospital – where it was confirmed that he had again suffered concussion.
Rugby 365 reports that, that means the Cheetahs – who are last on the standings after losing to the Lions and Western Force in the opening weeks of the tournament – will travel to New Zealand this week without their skipper, who will return home.
The Cheetahs face the Hurricanes, Blues and Highlanders on a road trip that could turn into a major disaster for the under-performing outfit from Bloemfontein.
Smith will be joined on the flight home by fellow loose forward Frans Viljoen, who fractured his arm.
Kabamba Floors and Francois Uys, who played in the Vodacom Cup competition for the Free State Cheetahs at the weekend, will join the squad in New Zealand.
It is believed that veteran flank Hendro Scholtz or the lock Nico Breedt will take over the captaincy.
The latest injury is a major setback for Smith, who now faces a lengthy lay-off, after having only recently recovered from a serious head knock he suffered in the Test against Scotland on South Africa’s year-end tour in November.
Smith, before his departure, also had a few choice words for his teammates – who have yet to record a win in Australasia in four years of Super 14 rugby.
“There’s only one word to describe that performance and it’s ‘shocking’,” Smith said of the defeat in Brisbane.
“We defended badly and let them gain a bit too much momentum on the wings. We also defended backwards.
“We wanted to back our kicking game in this match, but it didn’t work and the Reds put us under some good pressure. We were also playing catch-up rugby for much of the game. That’s our biggest enemy at the moment.”Tweet