Juan's loss not all bad - Div

2011-08-18 18:36

Cape Town - Springbok coach Peter de Villiers says flanker Juan Smith's withdrawal from South Africa's World Cup squad will produce positives and negatives for his team.

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Smith withdrew from the squad on the eve of the Boks' final Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth on Saturday with a persistent Achilles tendon injury that had been troubling him since February.

And while De Villiers admitted Smith's absence was a blow, he was pleased a decision had been made and his players could get on with the job at hand.

"It's sad that Juan has had to withdraw from the squad," De Villiers said on Thursday.

"His withdrawal doesn't make it tougher because now we know that he's out and the waiting is over.

"Still it remains a big blow because, when one thinks about it, he brought something special to the team.

"His leadership role is also a loss, and now it remains to be seen who will step up."

De Villiers said the heavy workload of the national squad had contributed to the multiple injuries which were picked up in the lengthened Super Rugby season.

One way of addressing that problem, he said, would be for the SA Rugby Union to contract the national players.

"It's much easier for the players in New Zealand," said De Villiers.

"There they contract the players and that puts them in a position where they can reach out to the national team all the time.

"Here in this country, the provinces control the players."

The residents of Port Elizabeth had warmed to the Springboks this week and De Villiers said he was "ashamed" that fans in the Eastern Cape did not see the national team more frequently.

"It makes one feel guilty when you experience the hospitality here in PE," said De Villiers.

"It is clear that the people want to associate with the Springboks.

"I just hope that we will do more to give the Springboks exposure here."

The Bok coach warned that the All Blacks were fielding a strong team for this weekend's clash, South Africa's last official match before the World Cup, despite making 11 changes to their side.

"It may sound like a lot of changes, but those players were the ones they used last year on their tour in Britain, so I'm sure the New Zealanders know what they are doing," he said.

"They have named (Colin) Slade at flyhalf, and we don't expect the All Blacks' game to change too much because he's in the same mould as (Dan) Carter."

Bryan Habana said he and fellow Springbok wing JP Petersen had a special task to perform on Saturday, since they had not played with newcomer Patrick Lambie who was set to start at fullback.

"Lambie is a special talent and he'll be around in South African rugby for a long time," said Habana.

"But JP and I have never played in the back three with Lambie so we have to make sure that we work as a unit.

"We've got to help him and make him as comfortable as possible."


South Africa:
15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp

Substitutes: 16 John Smit, Tendai Mtawarira, CJ van der Linde, Danie Rossouw, Ashley Johnson, Francois Hougaard, Butch James

New Zealand:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Isaia Toeava, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock

Substitutes: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Cory Jane


  • Jannie - 2011-08-18 18:52

    Just knew that Juan would not make it, a big loss but most people knew that he couldn't even run a few days ago...

      jannie - 2011-08-18 19:14

      You know a lot...what will the score be this weekend?

  • Zab - 2011-08-18 19:01

    "Bryan Habana said he and fellow Springbok wing JP Petersen had a special task to perform on Saturday"- will Habana please stop seeking the limelight and focus on his defensive skills, anyway what "special tasks" has he got in mind-leaving gaps in the defence???...another one of those who come to mind, who should take a leaf out of Juan Smith's book.

      AK-Tshepo-47 - 2011-08-18 19:41

      i think lambie is the one that will be helping habana.. why the hell is habana in the team really??? would the coach please answer me? i would be everything i own that francois hougaard is a far better winger than habana surely hougaard would be the first choice against the all blacks??

      Boydus - 2011-08-18 20:39

      Habana played really well last weekend. Agreed, he did come off his line once, which he shouldn't be doing anymore. But mostly he was spot on defensively. Case in point was when Aus were attacking with speed on our 22. Habana made a crucial tackle on Genia when he took the ball out to stop their momentum and allowed our defensive line to reform. That would've been a certain try had he not put in the tackle. He also seemed sharp on attack and gained some good running metres. But he hasn't received the ball in space for a while...neither have any of our other wings for that matter.

  • Sbuda - 2011-08-18 20:17

    Is Habana not aware that JP and Lambie both play for the Sharks? Looks like he's also lost touch with the game never mind his form!

  • ChrisW - 2011-08-18 20:24

    The best way Habana can helpLambie is hold the defence line and not shoot for the intercept try all the time, putting pressure on Lambie.

  • Sbuda - 2011-08-18 20:29

    "His leadership role is also a loss, and now it remains to be seen who will step up." Somebody please tell me I read it wrong, that this is not what PDV said. If it remains to be seen who will step up now that we've lost Juan's leadership, then what the f is John Smit doing in that team??????????????? I thought we've had to deal with his poor performances and in particular poor Bismark had to accept being No. 2 (no pun intended) even though he is the best because of John Smit's irreplaceable, immeasurable superior absolute-must-have-at-all-cost leadership!!!!!!! You know I'm starting to believe that it's true that John Smit and his cabal actually call the shots in that team.

  • Raymond - 2011-08-18 20:40

    What a disappointment it must be be for Juan and what a great loss for the 'Boks and rugby followers.When people spoke to me about Richie McCaw this and Richie McCaw that,I always answered and said that we have our own Richie McCaw,and his name is Juan Smith.What a classy player !!!!! At least he had the honour of being part of a winning World Cup team in 2007,and who will forget the try he scored against England.

  • rosemarie - 2011-08-18 21:47

    Juan Smit must be admired for putting the team first However the sequence of events is strange at the same time Juan got injured against the bulls in the beginning of the S15 season. Last Saturday he publically said he was fine He in fact said he is available for the cheetahs this Saturday That in itself is odd – if he was ready to play why not for the Boks? This week he announces that he is in too much pain to play. I am wondering and just wondering if this is not a replay of the Victor Matfield-White disagreement. Could it be that Juan just had enough of the set-up and could not bring himself to be part of it? Could it be that Juan put his principles first?

  • Karoobloed - 2011-08-19 03:15

    Not a great comment PdV - Juan Smith must be bitterly disappointed - no real positives here...

  • zule - 2011-08-19 07:57

    I wish that PDV would withdraw from the upcoming World Cup...and take his captain John Smit with him...then we would start to have a chance of successfully defending our title. VERY SAD NEWS re: Juan

  • garth vader - 2011-08-19 11:58

    What ever happened to Joe (Big Joe) van Niekerk?? On a bad day, a better loosie than most of the current incumbents

  • Borris the Blade - 2011-08-19 12:09

    I still think we need a flyhalf that creates space for our centres. If Dan Carter or Cooper played for the Bokke then Jean and Jaques would break lines and be in gaps. Morne Steyn is only a kicker. Think about it. If you defend against NZ or Aus - you need to put 3 defenders on Dan Carter and Cooper. But when they defend against us - they can just put 1 man on Morne Steyn. And that is out biggest bugger up. We need a fly half that can kick as well as attack running. Like a centre type fly half. So I think Lambie should play flyhalf. Or Peter Grant. Someone that is dangerous running like Larkham was for the Ausies. A useless attacking flyhalf creates no space for Jean and Jaques. Easy for them to defend against us. We have to work so much harder against them.

      garth vader - 2011-08-19 12:36

      On the money Mr Blade! - Butch Cassidy could also be our sundance kid if he put his mind to it.

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