Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs have been rocked by a late setback when their captain Juan Smith withdrew from the team because of the death of his father in Bloemfontein.
Smith’s father died in Bloemfontein late on Wednesday night after he was recovering from Rift Valley Fever, which he apparently contracted on his farm.
The setback comes just two days before Smith was due to return to the rugby field after missing the previous two matches to be at his father’s bedside. He flew earlier this week to Sydney to rejoin his team-mates after doctors told him his father was out of danger.
However, on Wednesday, his father took a turn for the worst and according to team sources, it seems his “heart gave in.”
Smith will now fly back to South Africa to rejoin his family, and leaves Sydney on Thursday night (SA time), arriving back in Bloemfontein on Friday night.
No replacement has been named for him yet, with the Cheetahs management still to meet to discuss the effect his withdrawal will have on the team.
“I’m still waiting for Naka to let us know who the replacement is,” team manager Eugene van Wyk said, “But it has hit us hard. Juan is on his way back to South Africa and our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
The Cheetahs face the Brumbies on Saturday morning in their second tour match.