Johannesburg - Former Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg may be aiming at a shot at playing Super Rugby again, but he still has a long way to go before it happens.
Liebenberg joined the Cheetahs on Thursday at their training sessions, ostensibly as the first step to making a comeback after he retired back in 2013 and hoping to play Super Rugby again.
But Cheetahs coach Franco Smith told SuperSport.com that while he does not rule out the comeback, it is still a long way from happening and currently Liebenberg has joined the team to impart his knowledge to the young and inexperienced Cheetahs group ahead of a demanding season.
“Tiaan is very interested to be involved in rugby again,” said Smith. “Whether that is as a player or in a coaching capacity, he wants to equip himself again.
“He stays in Bloemfontein and he has a lot of experience, and at the moment he has joined us to see what we are doing, but there is currently no thought of playing him. He just wants to be involved and make a difference. At this stage we are happy to tap into his experience, he is, after all, a good friend of Cheetah rugby.”
Smith said that should Liebenberg want to play, he is very realistic about his chances.
“He is 34 years old and he hasn’t played for a long time, but he is realistic of his chances - he is training extremely hard and it is up to him to decide for himself if he wants to give it a go.”
At this moment Liebenberg isn’t part of the Cheetahs structures in any way, but his influence will help the likes of Torsten van Jaarsveld, the likely No 1 hooker who played for Namibia in last year’s Rugby World Cup.
Liebenberg told the Bloemfontein Courant that he was simply looking to help out.
“At this stage all my focus is on getting the six hookers that are here as well equipped as possible for the Super Rugby,” said Liebenberg.
“I’m here out of my own will. I asked if I could come help and come learn and this is where we are at now,” he added.
Liebenberg said he was impressed by what he saw.
“Very good. I think there is a lot of talent. Like what I’m seeing from a technical point of view, the guys are well-equipped,” he said.
“I think Corniel (van Zyl) knows what he’s doing, Daan (Human) knows what he is doing and with Franco (Smith) it’s a great coaching staff.
“These are guys that played. In the past it was always easier for me to listen to a guy that has been there and knows what it’s all about.”
Time will tell if Liebenberg does make a comeback but with the attrition rate in Super Rugby and injuries that inevitably come, Smith must be happy to know he is around if he needs him.