Benetton Rugby have landed a major coup with the confirmation of the signing of Rhyno Smith from the Cheetahs on a two and half year deal.

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Smith has signed until 30 June 2023 with an option for a further year. Born on 11 February 1993 in Paarl in South Africa the 173 cm, 83 kg Smith can play across the back three and at stand-off. His signing comes just a week after the club terminated former Ireland international Ian Keatley’s contract early, suggesting Smith may be asked to step in as a playmaker.

Benetton have yet to win a game in this season’s truncated PRO14, with zero wins from nine rounds of rugby.

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Smith was the top try scorer in last season’s PRO14, scoring 10 tries, six at home in Bloemfontein and four on the road. He was also one of the leading metre makers in the competition.

Benetton Rugby boss Antonio Pavanello said: “We start the announcements with Rhyno Smith: a versatile player, a utility back who managed to show off both in PRO14 and even before in Super Rugby and Currie Cup with the jerseys of several prominent South African teams.

“A player able to cover both the role of winger and that of fullback and who in the past has also held the flyhalf position, proving excellent skills with the foot. It represents precisely the player profile we need in the future, managing to increase competition in the back department.”

Smith said he was grateful for the opportunity. “My family and I are grateful to the club for the opportunity, we are excited about the move and look forward to arriving, learning about a new culture and meeting my new teammates.

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“It was our dream to live abroad and to have this opportunity in a beautiful country like Italy is fantastic for us. I hope to repay the club with my performances on the pitch with the aim of achieving numerous goals.”

Before arriving at the Cheetahs, Rhyno had starred for the Leopards between 2014 and 2016, before making him mark at the Sharks where he made 30 appearances between Super Rugby and Currie Cup.

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