Cape Town - Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has been linked with the soon-to-be vacant Lions coaching job.
According to Netwerk24, Smith is being tipped as the replacement for current coach Johan Ackermann, who is on his way to take up a position at Gloucester in England at the end of the ongoing Super Rugby campaign.
Initially, it appeared as though Ackermann's assistant, Swys de Bruin, was the front-runner for the Lions job next year, but this report suggests he will be overlooked.
The report also suggested that Brendan Venter is on the Lions' radar to work alongside Smith in some capacity.
However, Venter took to Twitter on Thursday to squash those rumours, insisting he was not interested in full-time coaching and also gave his support to De Bruin, calling him the "perfect replacement" for Ackermann.
When contacted by Sport24, Smith said that he could not comment on the matter until after the Cheetahs had released a statement later on Friday.
That statement is expected to confirm their omission from Super Rugby 2018.
Smith is also currently the Springbok attack coach, and with the Cheetahs reportedly set to join Europe's Pro12 imminently, how such a move would impact on his Springbok position remains unclear.
I am fascinated but reports suggesting i am joining the Lions.They are a great team but in Swys have the perfect replacement for Ackers.— Brendan Venter (@BrendanVenter) July 6, 2017
I have no desire to be a full time rugby coach at this stage of my life.My boys are at school and my medical practice is my priority.— Brendan Venter (@BrendanVenter) July 6, 2017
I do wonder how anybody with any credibility can speculate about Franco or my involvement without asking our opinion.Just stating the facts— Brendan Venter (@BrendanVenter) July 6, 2017