Juan still in mourning
Bloemfontein – Springbok flanker Juan Smith will probably only play for South Africa in August.
Smith has withdrawn from the Bok side due to the recent death of his father, Giel, and hopes to be available for the home leg of this year’s Tri-Nations.
The Cheetahs captain, who is also struggling with a groin injury, will play for Free State in the Currie Cup in the meantime.
Smith was not included in the Bok side for the Test against Wales. Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said that he had not been considered due to personal reasons.
The flanker told Sport24 that the coach had visited him at his home on Monday and suggested that he take some time to work everything out.
Smith will be with his family and work through his father’s death, saying that it was one of the toughest decisions of his career.
“My mom is going through a tough time and is very emotional. I have been very busy of late as I played for the Cheetahs in the Super 14 after my father’s death. That is why his passing has not really sunk in. The reality only hit home now and I don’t want to play for the Boks if I’m not 100% right,” he said.
Smith was also due to undergo a scan of his groin injury on Monday and may be sidelined for a while if he needs to undergo surgery.
While he cannot say exactly when he’ll be available, Smith hopes to join his Bok team-mates when they return from Australia and New Zealand.
“We’ll see how things look after the overseas leg of the Tri-Nations.”
The Boks’ first home game in the Tri-Nations is against New Zealand in Johannesburg on 21 August.
Smith said De Villiers had agreed that he could play for the Free State to stay fit. Free State start their Currie Cup onslaught against Western Province in Bloemfontein on 10 July.
The Cheetahs captain said he was grateful for the Bok coach’s support.
“I appreciate being a player under Peter. His relationship with every player is incredible and that is what makes him such a good coach. It’s the first time I’m in a Bok team where a coach cares so much about the players. He went to the trouble of flying up to see me and said he’s 100% behind me.”