Franco Smith plays down suggestion of Glasgow Warriors contract priming him for Scotland job - 'I’m not going to read much into that'
The 51-year-old South African had a successful first season in charge of the Warriors, leading them to the Challenge Cup final and a top-four regular-season finish in the URC. He signed a new three-year contract earlier this week, and commentators on social media were quick to point out that Townsend’s current deal is also due to expire in 2026.
However, referring to the fact that his appointment as Danny Wilson’s successor in August 2022 was widely viewed as underwhelming, Smith suggested that he had little reason to be flattered by suggestions that he would be the right man to take over from Townsend. “A year ago they were all crying when they signed me, so I’m not going to read much into that,” he said on Thursday. “Also I don’t like looking ahead that far.
“It’s already a long way – I signed a long-term deal with Italy [first as national head coach and then as the federation’s head of high performance] and I never got to the end of that. So we’ll take it one year at a time from now. The club invested a lot of time and effort last year in making this group competitive and now that is going to be the next step, to have significant success. I’m not thinking too much beyond that.”
After performing well in both competitions last season, Glasgow will now be seen as a major scalp by opponents in the coming season, Smith believes. “I definitely feel they’ll come out all guns blazing against us,” he continued. “The top four teams are always in the scope of everybody in the year after and that’s where we sat, therefore it would be ignorant of us not to think that other teams will take great joy in beating us. We have to prepare for that from the start.”
Smith also revealed that second-row forward JP du Preez will miss the start of the season because of an injury sustained in training. With Scott Cummings and Richie Gray absent on World Cup duty and Lewis Bean having left for French club Montauban, the Warriors have restricted options at lock. However, Smith appears confident he has adequate cover within his squad, especially in the shape of young Scottish talent Max Williamson and Alex Samuel.
“JP is a big loss in that area of the game, given who left the club and with Scotty and Richie not with us,” he said. “There’s a good opportunity from my side to see what Max Williamson and Alex Samuel can bring for us. It will be good to see a couple of young guys in that role, although JP had looked in excellent form. Sintu Manjezi should be ready soon as well, so we should have enough players.”