Os: Pick Smith - then the rest
Wellington - Juan Smith is the first name that Os du Randt will pencil in if he had to pick a Springbok squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Du Randt was at Imbuko this week to launch his wine label, Osbloed. When asked about the Bok squad at the function, he did not hesitate to start at Smith.
"Juan is a simple being. There are no grey areas with him, so you know exactly where you stand with him. It's all or nothing for him. It's an attitude that you want at the World Cup and why guys like him, Fourie du Preez and Butch James were so good at the 2007 World Cup," said Du Randt, who was part of the Springbok World Cup-winning teams in 1995 and 2007.
Smith suffered a serious Achilles injury against the Bulls in February and there was initially concern about his availability for the tournament, which starts in September. It does not worry Du Randt that he will only be able to start running later this month.
"He's a tough guy and psychologically very strong. You could pick him the moment that he's fit. When Juan was injured last year and his father passed away, we missed him at Free State. He leaves a huge void," said Du Randt.
"When I saw as scrum coach how badly he was being missed, Juan's value increased even further in my eyes.”
He also reckons that Bakkies Botha deserves to be mentioned in the same breath in spite of all his misdemeanours.
"I know that Bakkies has caused some problems for himself, but guys like him and Juan literally bleed for the Springbok jersey. They always give it their all when they pull on the jersey. It does not matter how many Tests they have played or how settled they are in the team," said Du Randt.
"It's not just about their individual contributions, but about how other players feel in their presence. You know that Juan won't let you down with mediocre performances - that is not in his make-up. It's not how he lives. You pick him first. Finished."
As far as the Bok front row is concerned, Du Randt revealed he would pick Jannie du Plessis and CJ van der Linde as tighthead props, with Beast Mtawarira and Gurthrö Steenkamp the looseheads. He believes John Smit should only be considered as a hooker.