We caught up with the electric full-back to discuss the Toyota Cheetahs’ amazing start to the season and more.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week, where we sit down exclusively with Rhyno to find out more about his background, upbringing and rugby journey.
A breath-taking start
Rhyno Smith is a match-winner in the purest form of the term.
The Toyota Cheetahs full-back has burst on to the scene in the opening two games of the new season, announcing himself and his team as a threat to the rest of the Guinness PRO14.
Having made a handful of appearances in the competition as the Cheetahs finished the campaign in a sub-par sixth-place in Conference A last year, the 26-year-old is back with a vengeance having signed for the Bloemfontein side on a permanent basis.
And he has grasped his opportunity with both hands, leading the Guinness PRO14 in tries, carries and clean breaks; he is also second in metres gained and defenders beaten.
With Smith at the heart of the Cheetahs’ exceptional run to the summit of Conference A ahead of this weekend’s face-off with fellow table-toppers Munster, there is no surprise as to his personal assessment of his form so far.
— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) October 10, 2019
“I’ve been pretty happy with my performances; I would be lying if I said I was disappointed or anything like that,” he said.
“For me and the brand of rugby and the way that I want to express myself on the field, I need to get the ball into my hands as often as I can and then have a go as often as I can.
“The way the Cheetahs play, it suits the way I want to play, so I must just stay fit, stay healthy and, same as with the team, whatever motivates me at that time, I need to use it as fuel to keep going.
“To join again and to see the difference in mentality: you can tell that we believe we can beat anyone, that we can win the competition, which I didn’t necessarily get the feeling last year.
“It’s really good to join and take the momentum from the Currie Cup and that energy and throw it into the start of the season so far.
“Hopefully we will continue to use that as fuel, and when that fuel becomes inefficient we’ll find something new, or maybe the momentum we’ve built up will then take us further.”
Cheetahs eye glory
After a stand-out run to the quarter-finals in their inaugural Guinness PRO14 season the Cheetahs struggled last time out, but while the 12 northern hemisphere sides were enjoying their summer holidays, Franco Smith’s team were busy preparing for the new campaign with silverware.
Their run to the Currie Cup title, as they downed Smith’s former side the Sharks in the process, set the tone for a brand-new era of Cheetahs rugby.
With Rhyno and the likes of South Africa legend Ruan Pienaar arriving, and coach Franco Smith set to depart after this weekend’s Munster match, a clean slate brings with it fresh optimism.
And namesake Rhyno believes that, given their landmark wins already this season against Ulster and last year’s finalists Glasgow Warriors, it is a wave that they can ride all the way to glory.
“I do know that coach Franco has always had the dream of winning a cup in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere, being the first team in the world to do that,” he continued.
@CheetahsRugby coach Franco Smith aims to finish his reign in Bloemfontein on a high note in the @PRO14Official on Friday, while the @SouthernKingsSA want to make good use of their chances‼️ 🏉🏉 Get the preview here⛓️https://t.co/A9Tmh5qNdQ pic.twitter.com/uBH4Pd3RjH
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 10, 2019
“It’s definitely an ambition to do that as a union, as a team, but I think it’s gone from being a vision to having a step-by-step goal to get there.
“Obviously our sights are set firmly on winning as many home games as possible. We back ourselves to win a few on tour as well so that we can qualify for the quarters, and once you’re in a final, anything can happen.
“We need to get to the quarter-finals to give ourselves a chance, and then after that we believe that we’ll be able to go all the way.
“We’ve never beaten Ulster, never beaten Munster, never beaten Glasgow and those are our three first games of the year.
“We’ve only thought and talked and planned that far. We’ve played all of these teams about four times each now, some of them we’ve not beaten once and it’s about getting that monkey off your back; you beat them once, you can beat them again.
“Once we’ve beaten everybody once, they know that we can beat them, and I think we’re in the mix.”
Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!
General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.