Franco Smith ditches Glasgow Warriors co-captains model and explains Kyle Steyn appointment

Franco Smith, the new Glasgow Warriors coach, believes Kyle Steyn has character, leadership skills and the respect of the dressing room after naming him as captain for the forthcoming season.

The appointment is Smith’s first big call since taking over at Scotstoun. Steyn, who has been with Glasgow since February 2019, succeeds experienced duo Fraser Brown and Ryan Wilson as skipper.

Brown and Wilson have done the job jointly for the last two seasons but Smith wants to move away from the co-captains model as he attempts to put his stamp on the club. The coach, who took over from Danny Wilson, said naming Steyn, 28, as captain signalled a fresh approach.

“First of all, he’s shown consistency in the way he plays,” said Smith, whose previous role was as head of high performance with Italian rugby. “He’s a club man and has a huge amount of respect from the players. He’s a person that symbolises the character of what we expect from a Glasgow Warrior. He trains and works hard and his off-field activities are aligned with what we want from the club.

New Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith has appointed Kyle Steyn as club captain. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“Also, when a new coach comes in there’s a bit of change and a new way of thinking. So we’re not going to have co-captains, we’re going to have a club captain. There will be captains on the day. If Kyle is in the team, he will be the captain on the field but if he’s not playing we’re not going to stop the whole wagon because one player is not on the field.

“We’ve got a leadership group and it includes young players with aspirations who are just making the step up. And obviously we have older players like Ryan Wilson, Fraser Brown and Richie Gray and we’re going to use their influence as a point of reference in a different way.

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“As I explained to them, they've got a very important role to play with others in the group. They’ve walked the walk and now it’s time to let some others develop so the legacy can live on.”

New Glasgow Warriors captain Kyle Steyn trains at Scotstoun. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Steyn, who can play wing or centre, missed Glasgow’s calamitous end to the season with an Achilles injury but is back to full fitness and is expected to captain the team for the first time in the pre-season match against Worcester Warriors in Inverness on Friday.

The Johannesburg-born player came to Glasgow via a spell in the Scotland Sevens squad, qualifying through his Glasgow-born mother. A former student at the University of Stellenbosch, he arrived in this country from the Griquas whom he captained.

His Scotland debut came against France in the 2020 Six Nations and he made history last season when he scored four tries in the 60-14 win over Tonga, becoming the first Scotland men’s player to do so since Gavin Hastings against Côte d'Ivoire at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Smith and Steyn both hail from South Africa but had never previously worked together although the coach discovered a connection to Steyn’s father, Rory, this week.

“By accident I realised that his dad was the Springbok security officer when I was playing back in the day. I never knew Kyle was his son until this week.”

Rory Steyn was also Nelson Mandela’s security officer when he became president of South Africa in 1994.

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