Cape Town - Hawies Fourie was on Thursday confirmed as the new head coach of the Cheetahs' PRO14 outfit.
The Cheetahs announced at a press conference in Bloemfontein that Fourie signed a four-year deal.
"After the position of head coach was advertised in May, Free State Rugby received more than 30 strong applications from all over the rugby world. The top six candidates were invited to do a presentation.
Hawies's presentation and knowledge of the game impressed the interview panel and he immediately stood out as the successful candidate to lead the Cheetahs," the union posted on its official website.
Fourie, who has been the Maties head coach for the past four seasons, replaces Franco Smith, who will become Italy's national coach later this year.
Smith will still coach the Cheetahs in the upcoming Currie Cup, with Fourie taking over as head coach once the PRO14 season starts.
"Fourie will join the Free State Cheetahs during the Currie Cup as an observer, but will not be directly involved with coaching. This will afford him time to study the culture and players. He will take over full reins with his coaching staff after the last Currie Cup match," the Cheetahs statement continued.
Fourie is no stranger to the Cheetahs, having been the team's backline coach under Naka Drotske between 2007 and 2013.
After that he became Griquas' head coach, before moving to Stellenbosch in late 2015.
He coached Maties to runner-up spots in the 2016 and 2017 Varsity Cup competitions before winning the title the following two years.
Before he joined the Cheetahs in 2007, Fourie coached Boland between 2002 and 2007 and was also backline coach at the Stormers in 2006.