The 50-year-old Fourie will take over the reins of the team from Franco Smith, who in his turn returns to international duty as the Italian national coach at the beginning of next year.
Smith will still coach the Free State Cheetahs in the 2019 Currie Cup which kicks off in July. Fourie, who still has commitments at the University of Stellenbosch Maties, will form part of the Free State coaching staff for a portion of the world’s oldest domestic competition.
Fourie is no stranger to the Cheetahs as he was an assistant coach when Naka Drotské was still at the helm of Cheetahs rugby.
In order to develop as a coach, Fourie, opted to take the Griquas head coach role before moving to Maties, where he guided the famous club to four back-to-back Varsity Cup finals, of which they won the last two editions of the hugely popular tournament. In doing so, Maties became the most successful team in Varsity Cup history.
Fourie told OFM Sport that when he left the Cheetahs, he was not ready to be a head coach of a franchise, but he believes that now the time is right.
“I always wanted to coach at a higher level again”, said Fourie.
“The Maties coaching job was good at the time that I got it. We were successful, but it is a lot easier than the competitions that we will be playing in over the next four or five years.
“For me, this is a dream come true. When I left the Free State I always wanted to come back. I knew in 2015 that I had to learn some skills and improve myself.
“I feel that now I am ready for the challenge of being the head coach. I realised at that time I wasn’t ready, so I went to the Griquas for two years and the Maties for four years. Six years later I am a lot more confident. I’m ready to do the job and looking forward to it.”
Fourie added that he has a fairly good understanding of the rugby culture at the Free State, and according to him it very important to fall in and reacquaint himself with it.”
“That is one thing that doesn’t cost money. Your culture and the values of the team doesn’t cost anything.
“Everyone has to just buy into it and live the culture of the team. That is a really important thing for me, to get to know what the current culture is and to try and build it to as strong as we can in order to try and help us be successful in the competitions we will be playing in.
“The things that cost are sometimes out of control. Your commitment, attitude, work ethic, and discipline doesn’t cost anything and anyone can do it if they want to.
“That is one thing that I will try and establish as quickly as I can.”
While the Cheetahs are in the process of contracting and renewing current player contracts, Fourie, will be a part of this process, and this is very important that he will.
The Cheetahs confirmed that they are in negotiations with the 88 Test Springbok veteran, Ruan Pienaar. While the player is at the twilight of his career, his experience will be a boost to the squad who are losing Shaun Venter to the Ospreys in Wales.
The 2019/20 Guinness Pro14 is expected to start on 27 September 2019, and while not finalised, the Cheetahs set to kick-off their campaign with three home games against Glasgow Warriors, Ulster, and Munster.
@MorganPiek OFM Sport