Juan Smith - Not for sale

Hendrik Cronjé and Jóhann Thormählen

Bloemfontein – His business interests and pride in the Cheetahs jersey made it easy for Juan Smith to renew his contract with the Free State Rugby Union.

The 28-year-old Smith owns a butchery in Bloemfontein and also farms with cattle between Bloemfontein and Kimberley.

Smith’s agent, Stephan Weyers, confirmed on Thursday that the Lions and Sharks were interested in signing him.

A number of offers from overseas were also on the table, but the Cheetahs captain did not want to risk jeopardising his Springbok career by accepting one of those prior to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

“He signed a contract for a further two years with the Cheetahs. Juan also has a Springbok contract that runs until the end of next year. One can only admire his loyalty,” said Weyers.

“Every year he receives offers for more than double his annual salary (against what he earns at the Cheetahs). The Cheetahs are privileged to have such a leader.”

Smith’s decision follows a recent announcement by the Cheetahs that Springbok tighthead prop CJ van der Linde will play for them in the Currie Cup.

Unfortunately for the Cheetahs, Van der Linde may be one of the Boks the South African Rugby Union would like to see rested during the Currie Cup, but may well be available for a possible semifinal and final.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské believes that the decisions by Smith and Van der Linde can lure a number of other players to the team, as well as convince local stars to stick around in the region.

Smith made his Currie Cup debut for the Cheetahs in 2002 when he formed a loose forward combination with Rassie Erasmus and André Venter.

Smith has represented the Boks in 62 Tests and should be available for the home Tri-Nations Tests against the Wallabies and All Blacks following his recent groin operation.
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