Smit a true warrior

2011-08-24 09:09

Johannesburg - Even the harshest critics of South Africa Rugby World Cup captain John Smit have to admit he takes criticism like a true warrior.

Dismissed as over the hill at 33 and rated only the fourth best hooker in the country, the man who led the Springboks to 2007 World Cup glory has never turned against his many critics.

"Playing for the Springboks means there is no easy ride, no escape and never a place to hide," he confessed to Business Day.

"Captaining them means the scrutiny is even more intense. The rewards when things are going well are immense - the vitriol is as hectic when you don't play well and the team doesn't win."

There have been plenty of brickbats but few bouquets lately with supporters and the media almost unanimous in crowning Bismarck du Plessis 'king' of the South African hookers.

Smit and Du Plessis have been team-mates at the Durban-based Sharks for several seasons and the latter has never publicly voiced unhappiness at his understudy role.

Sharks coach John Plumtree has also stayed silent on the subject while going against the wishes of Springbok handler Peter de Villiers by playing Du Plessis at hooker and Smit at tight-head prop.

Smit says he and other senior Springboks like lock and vice-captain Victor Matfield decided two years ago that there was sufficient gas in the tanks for another World Cup challenge.

The decision was based on the belief that no world rugby champions have ever had as good a chance of being the first to successfully defend the William Webb Ellis trophy.

"It has to be about the challenge, about doing something incredible, about creating history -- this team is good enough to defend the title and I have a contribution to make.

"If we lose I want to be at the heart of the battle, not sitting in a corporate suite listening to people say that if I had been there it would have been different," says Smit.

While criticism of Smit stems from sluggishness about the field and erratic line-out throwing, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers considers his captain a "world star".

"John is an outstanding player and having him available is a great boost. History has shown that teams who do well at the Rugby World Cup have experienced and outstanding leadership."

Capped for the first time in 2000 and named captain four years later, Smit has also led the green and gold to glory in a Test series against the British nd Irish Lions and a Tri-Nations title.

The only honour to elude the 1.88-metre, 115-kilogram Springbok was a 'grand slam' of tour victories over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

It will hurt him deeply that bloggers celebrated incorrect reports last weekend that he would miss the World Cup through injury as a "blessing".

"I put my trust in John," says De Villiers. Times columnist Archie Henderson insists "Smit is attempting a World Cup too far." The rugby battlefields of New Zealand will decide who is right.


  • BLOODY AGENT - 2011-08-24 09:15

    We dont need Warriors ,we need Rugby players

      Alan - 2011-08-24 09:29

      said the one whom call himself "Bloody Agent"

      Paul - 2011-08-24 09:30

      @BLOODY AGENT We need true loyal Bok fans , the team has being picked and I'm sure we all have our gripes and moans about who should be in or out ,but now that it's being announced I think it's time to stop all the insults and get behind our boys. GO BOKKE GO !!!

      jk - 2011-08-24 09:32


      BLOODY AGENT - 2011-08-24 09:40

      @jk if that is the case what are you doing on this thread? @Alan,who in his right mind call his son Alan? @Paul,i agree,feel sorry for players like Johnstone,Mvovu and Deysel,but thats only me

      chappy - 2011-08-24 09:43

      I take criticism pretty well, can I also play for the Springboks please?

      BLOODY AGENT - 2011-08-24 09:45

      Chappy you need to be overweight and prepared to listen to helium voice

      The Watchman - 2011-08-24 10:08

      Heeehee @Bloody Agent.... Full stop! LOL

      Andrew Brady - 2011-08-24 10:16

      I fully agree Bloody Agent. Piet helium runs this team like a Sunday School class. It is warriors and making history. This is nothing else but a disguised ego trip for Smit. I actually don't care any more if they win this World Cup. You can't play rugby with a bunch of sentimental morons.

      Marx - 2011-08-24 10:25

      John may not be the number one hooker in this country, but he is the chosen one and I back him 1000% You go Bokke, I know you will make us proud!!! Let's all unite behind the soon to be 2011 WC Champs!!! Believe....

      chat-chat - 2011-08-24 11:24

      @ Andrew Brady I think Helium Piet runs the team more like a History class than Sunday School. He seems to want to MAKE history as well by trying to have the same squad win the RWC twice in succession. Well, good luck to him, we'll all be happy if by some miracle it happens. I really like John Smit, he never gives up, & is an inspirational Captain. BUT! I don't like the idea of our Captain being on the bench most of the time, which will happen. The problem is that no other player has ever been groomed to take over the Captaincy -Victor's flaws as Captain show when the team struggles. Dreading the embarrasing, inane comments our Piet is going to be making during the RWC.

      PlainTruth - 2011-08-24 11:41

      At least he faces his critics, not like one Graeme Smith who ran away to Ireland after the dismal performance at the CWC

      Tired - 2011-08-24 12:26

      He is a warrior i hear..for the ANC as well the rumours run..?

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-24 12:27

      The article should read: SMIT, A TRUE WORRY

      nobokjoy - 2011-08-24 12:30

      bloody agent,go do your thing in the toilet,twat.

      pcpcoetzee89 - 2011-08-24 12:32

      I have also been critical about JS's form recently ... but make no mistake - he is a top class BOK and an excellent leader - respect to you Barney!

      RL - 2011-08-24 12:45

      @andrew brady so if you dont care whether we win the world cup im not sure what your comment is based on if not sentiment because it is not rugby. @chat chat div has already made history and racked up many high's and low's, it is the nature of the game. stop being a quitter either you're on board or you sit on the sidelines. @plain truth my thoughts exactly. smit has been far from great but you have to admire him for taking it all on the chin and still turning up week after week. all the best lads ... bring it home

  • Makutu - 2011-08-24 09:17

    Let us just wait and see what happens in the World Cup. Tired of being a critic now. I can only offer my support. As much as i dont' support Smit's inclusion, I can only say goodluck. And no Peter De Villiers, he isn't an awesome player. He WAS an awesome player.

      Sarge - 2011-08-24 09:23

      Agreed!!! Lets just all support these guys and enjoy the great rugby we are gonna have in the next few months. Go Bokke!!!

      shew - 2011-08-24 10:55

      of course lets support them but not blindly. to say that we need to 'not critisize' because the team has already been selected is ridiculous. It is as ridiculous as saying that after the national elections we all need to support the ANC because they were selected to be the government. the bottom line (in both cases) is that we will support if it is worth supporting but when the evidence is overwhelming to the contrary we will not support something that looks like the wrong decision and that looks destined to fail! surely???

      shew - 2011-08-24 11:06

      further to my post above, we can all hope for the best but John Smit is to our World Cup campaign what rampant corruption is to the ANC. Unless you fix the problem it is not going to work. we can hope and pray but if John Smit gets more than 10 mins in the world cup semis and final then we are doomed to failure. We are not that good that we can pick poor players in key positions and still expect to win. the margin between success and failure is too small for that

  • Tshepo-With-An-O - 2011-08-24 09:20

    i fear people will say after this world cup that "If you were NOT there things would have been positively different" you would think you would learn your lesson from graham smith who went down in flames in the cricket world cup

      Makutu - 2011-08-24 09:26

      It's Graeme Smith. Graeme Smith!

      Cullen - 2011-08-24 09:26

      stick to being an ANC puppet tshepo

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-24 11:06

      @Tshepo "With an O" - in case you did not get the message last weak, here goes again; G.R.A.E.M.E - get it? got it? good!

      draaft - 2011-08-24 13:49

      At Rob, it is spelt week, w.e.e.k., week. Your comment was weak...

      PlainTruth - 2011-08-24 14:02

      Does not matter what, our rugby team has made it to the World Cup, unlike Bobjana, who were only there because we were hosting the tournament

  • DQYDJ - 2011-08-24 09:22

    Let's be honest, we should make it to the semi's and from there on anything is possible. If we win the semis we'll win the world cup. If we win the decision to keep Smit will be celebrated for years to come. If we lose, well, who really expected us to win? And what difference does it make to Smit or De Villiers - they're not well liked anyway, but maybe they can now redeem themselves.

      The Watchman - 2011-08-24 10:13

      Well said.........Times columnist Archie Henderson insists "Smit is attempting a World Cup too far." The rugby battlefields of New Zealand will decide who is right. But im done with critics as the team has been picked & im supporting my country through thick & thin..... with or without John Smit. Amabokeboke

  • Lida - 2011-08-24 09:22

    I felt sorry for JS when I saw him on tv. He is not the best hooker but still the best captain. Lets stand behind him and give him strength and confidence he needs. The squad has been selected. Now lets be one South Africa and stand behind them.

      Zee - 2011-08-24 09:51

      I don't rate him as the best player either currently, but his charisma and leadership he brings to this team cannot be underestimated. The mere fact that he has led our team to some of it's greatest victories makes me, as a loyal SA supporter, very glad to see his name in the squad. He's one of the legendary captains of all time, and for some of our "supporters" to badmouth him the way they are I feel truly sorry for them. Experience is priceless at World Cups, and very few players have the experience that this man does. Go Bokke!

      louab - 2011-08-24 10:00

      you go girl, I agree, no matter what, this is our team and we need to embrace them, go bokke!

      Met Uysh! - 2011-08-24 11:25

      He might not be the best, but 4th? Who does these rating? ANCYL!? Erratic in the lineouts? Smit is the most accurate lineout thrower in the country! Sluggish on the field? Smit in his 78 minutes in the last two matches made just as many tackles as Bismarck made in his 92 minutes and was in the top 4 tacklers in the squad in both the last two matches he started! I guess people will look with tainted glasses and see what they want and just follow the one or two okes who make the most noise! And then we complain that the masses get influenced by the one or two loudmouths in ANCYL?!

  • Anneleen - 2011-08-24 09:23

    ...a bouquet to John "Warrior" Smit...standing strong in the face of are acknowledged...!!!

      Drewka - 2011-08-24 10:14

      John would be the one bringing the cup home, with scars and bruises to show for it. The "never say die" Captain of the Green & Gold....

      Anneleen - 2011-08-24 10:20

      @Drewka...good morning and thank you for your comment...very well said, indeed! Never say die, and never backs down!

  • Claude - 2011-08-24 09:27

    Too late for criticism - the best we can do now is to support all the players even if they are not who we would like to be selected. They are there and as South Africans we must support and wish them well or be branded traitors. There is time for postmortems afterwards.

  • Raka13 - 2011-08-24 09:27

    Has anyone else noticed this last night: When Hoskins handed over the caps too the guys and said congratulations , every one replied with a "thank you" or some said "it's a privilege" John Smit replied to Hoskins - "Thank you - it is an honour" Now that is a response from a true legend and extremely well polished individual on and off the field. I will say this again - John Smit will not let us down. Sure it makes sense playing Bismark for 60 minutes or so, but John deserves his place even if it is only giving instructions from the bench. My captain my captain!!!

  • supporter - 2011-08-24 09:27

    Just support the national team for once please

  • StBad - 2011-08-24 09:28

    Love him or hate him he is our captain and his record speaks for itself... he must have amazingly thick skin to put up (undeservedly) with the harshness of the criticism by the media and his nay sayers. He surely doesn't deserve to be treated they way he is and his handling of the situation is a testament to his character and commitment to Springbok Rugby... Good luck John!

  • clivegoss - 2011-08-24 09:28

    The team is selected comeplete with captain. Now is the time, to cut the chatter and the chirp.Get behind "our " team for better or for worse. Go BOKKE !

  • Ray - 2011-08-24 09:29

    Go John!!!!!!!!!! I lift my hat at the restraint and respect you showed last night when the journalist showed no respect to our nations rugby captain. YOU LEGEND!

      Maori - 2011-08-24 09:33

      What question did the journalist ask? Did not watch the announcement

  • BokBru - 2011-08-24 09:31

    Good luck boys. You can do it.

  • Colin - 2011-08-24 09:32

    Francois Louw....what a player! Make Birt proud lad!!!

  • Kubes - 2011-08-24 09:32

    Some of you are class act clowns commenting here. This man has done this country proud and is a true gentleman. Show some respect!!! I am sure the bokke are going to win the WC, when John Smit lifts the cup I hope the clowns commenting negativeley swallow your words.

  • jk - 2011-08-24 09:33


      TheBigBok - 2011-08-24 10:00

      Actually, a real warrior fights to the end and if there is one man who will fight, with all he's got for the springboks, it's John Smit.

      jk - 2011-08-24 10:12

      wrong bigbok- you cannot call smittie a real warrior, cause hes got no legs and a boep...

      Raka13 - 2011-08-24 10:21

      jk,you plonker, hopefully you are in no teaching position or job, cause your explanation of words and situations are so wrong and totaly one dimentional crap. Keep your comments to the thumbs up or down selections.

      Drewka - 2011-08-24 10:23

      I think you have a fat boep and no brain jk, and you won't say that about John to his face, now would you?

      jk - 2011-08-24 11:10

      raka & drewka- you know what, you two love birds should book a weekend away, to find each other again...

      Drewka - 2011-08-24 12:10

      Ja maybe to NZ, to support our team fool!!

      jk - 2011-08-24 12:19

      dont think you two can afford it

      Mr. B - 2011-08-24 13:45

      @JK - quick question Nimrod .... How many tries did we score in this years Tri Nations ? Question 2 - who scored them ? Back the team - unconditionally !!!!

      jk - 2011-08-24 14:04

      mrB- im a realis and a betting man, and im not gonna loose my money... France to win w/cup...

  • mcaplan - 2011-08-24 09:44

    Henderson is right. Smit needs to join the technical advisory team or the commentary team. De Villiers saying, "I put my trust in John" - is nothing more than wishful, rather sentimental thinking! A captain from the bench - looks a bit embarrasing.

  • Dave - 2011-08-24 09:45

    I have never understood the personal attacks against John Smit on this blog. Even the one media interviewer was positively rude to him by saying "How does it feel to be selected as captain when you won't be starting?" or something to that effect a) First off we need more than Bissie at the WC. JS is still a very good hooker and when he has come against Liebenberg, Botha etc he has done fine. Simply put we need both b) Most importantly John Smit does not select the side. The selectors and coach asked him to continue for the good of the side and he agreed to do so despite having very little else to prove. The players have been behind Smit all the way and the he is spoken of reverently by the other international players from all countries (Ollie is an exception) He is a superb captain and that is difficult in SA given the provincialism we have. Victor is the best lock I have ever seen but he does not imho match Smit in the captaincy stakes. c) To end it all, one should not speak of any Bok the way some on this blog have done. A Bok captain that has led us from a mess in 2003 through 2X 3Ns victories and one WC victory. Add to that 106 caps. John - we are behind you and the boys. May the best side win and I hope iits the Boks. I will be there in NZ to shout for you guys in the semis and hopefully the final

      Ray - 2011-08-24 10:39

      Dave, you must have played rugby in your days. Spoken like a true BOK supporter. JOHN YOU LEGEND!!!!!!!!!!

      johan.d.plessis - 2011-08-24 11:40

      Thanks Dave - well said and specifically to the Bias Blue Bull Press (and by name Rudolph Lake and JJ Harmse) BACK OFF - John is the captain and there is nothing you can do about it, so live with it. In my opinion your credibility as writers are smashed, now may John and his team make you choke on your own words. Best Wishes Mr Smit - we are behind you all the way.

  • Lonewolfman - 2011-08-24 09:47

    Well done sombody else also see's the value in John a true legend and needs the respect he deserves, We are behind you our capt keep the guys focused for victory.

  • King_911 - 2011-08-24 09:48

    Hou your bek Bloody agent!!! Viva BOKKE!!!! I trust this man too!!!

      jk - 2011-08-24 10:19

      king- you tell that scumbag of an agent!!! wp by 18!!!

      5 slot - 2011-08-24 11:51

      OK so we're all on about meeting the kiwi's in the semi's. So who do we play should we throw the one game against Wales eg, and end second? I'd rather whallop the kiwis in the final than the semi's

      jk - 2011-08-24 11:54

      in the semi's- you very optimistic...

      King_911 - 2011-08-24 13:18

      Optimistic how??? Ireland have proven it themselves they CANNOT travel anywhere and be a force, we should blow them over and face NZ in the semi's- This has all been carefully worked out for RSA to face NZ. If we end second in the pool we take on AUS... I would rather face the Kiwi's at home than OZ in a RWC.

      jk - 2011-08-24 14:26

      king-shut up and listhen to jk- france to win w/cup

  • BB - 2011-08-24 09:49

    Why so many critics? Because he does not belong in the team any more! Do not deserve it! Weak link! I can go on an on..

      Dave - 2011-08-24 12:31

      Please don't

  • BryanJhb - 2011-08-24 09:53

    Possibly John should have taken the same route that David Beckham took for the Soccer World Cup ie mentor to the team where I think he could have played an amazing role especially to newcomers such as Lambie. If Bismarck plays for 60 minutes and then John comes on that would put tremendous pressure on John and, furthermore, there is the possible confusing aspect of who is the real captain - John or Victor?

  • NkosiMzimba - 2011-08-24 09:58

    Could anyone tell me what the hell were those things on the boks heads during the ceremony? they looked like bavarian boy scouts selling choc chip cookies at the border

      Drewka - 2011-08-24 10:31

      Its Bok tradition my friend, a symbol of greatness....

  • BlueRaven - 2011-08-24 10:00

    John Smit I am one of your biggest critics, but I love the Springboks, so congrats on being selected and good luck. I hope you silence me and all your critics. Bokke behind you all the way! Make us proud.

  • Hotti - 2011-08-24 10:01

    I would have respected Smit more if he did the honorable thing and that was to step down!

  • roboman1 - 2011-08-24 10:04

    @Bloody agent, pathetic, your chirps lack IQ and humour, add both and then people will not constantly in in large numbers give you the tumbs down, add one and we will still find it readable, but none? I ask you agent, is that why you always here commenting, because in real life no one likes listening to dumb humourless people

  • Marshy - 2011-08-24 10:04

    We need a team of personnel that will live and die for each other for 80+ minutes on the pitch. John has a huge role to play in leading the team and I for one don't care if he starts or is on the bench, he can when the chips are down get the team to go the extra hard yards. Good luck to the MEN who carry our hopes and dreams.

  • Sharky_CTN - 2011-08-24 10:09

    The die is cast, we have our team. Now lets get behind them and be positive. This is the world cup, they need our support as much as we need them to play their guts out!

  • Brannas - 2011-08-24 10:09

    Oupa John is oud en stadig, maar hy is 'n goeie kaptein en 'n briljante leier. Die onderkaptein is 'n probleem. Ons weet almal Matfield is oor die muur en useless. Jammer Luke Watson is nie gekies as onderkaptein nie

      Drewka - 2011-08-24 10:44

      Ja, mense wat brannas drink, hul vrouens slaan en hul honde skop sal opkom met die strond wat jy nou getik het!!!

      Brannas - 2011-08-24 11:15

      Drew ka(k) wats jou probleem? Ek is groot genoeg om te erken dat julle kaptein goed is en ons kaptein useless is. Wat wil jy meer hê? O, jy het dit teen Watson. Laat ek jou sê Watson is 3 John Smitte werd

      Drewka - 2011-08-24 12:21

      Dit gaan nie meer oor die provinsies, my kaptein en jou kaptein nie brannas. Victor is 'n goeie ondersteuning vir John, en die twee vul mekaar aan in die leierskap. My probleem is jou ondersteuning aan Puke. As daar nou 'n lys opgestel moet word van spelers wat nie in die span hoort nie, sal hy eerste wees. En hierdie keer kon sy pa nie 'n paar ANC base omkoop dat sy laaitjie 'n boktrui dra nie.

  • Bokmad - 2011-08-24 10:15

    I salute you John!Now go get us that cup!

  • jeremy swarts - 2011-08-24 10:15

    John you are a real champion and the fact that you're being seen as an underdog, makes me support you even more. God bless you forever my captain (win or lose).me support you even more. God bless you forever my captain (win or lose).

  • Nathan Loftie-Eaton - 2011-08-24 10:18

    Go Bokke!

  • Sheriffff - 2011-08-24 10:33

    Captain my captain. . . .I am glad to say through thick and thin I have never criticized you and have always been behind you, Matfield and the Boks 100% Make us proud Bokke!

  • Phelan Wulf - 2011-08-24 10:37

    If by that you mean that he is to ignorant and to arogant to admit that he is over the hill.... Then I suppose you are right.

  • sessisie - 2011-08-24 10:42

    Like Gaddafi he cannot let go!

  • Waldez - 2011-08-24 10:42

    Come on guys lets forget the past lets support our New Springbok side for the 2011 World Cup in NZ. This team has got all the potential to win the cup as long as they get the support from us and believe in themselves. They can suprise us , maybe the goverment must put their money where their mouth is and pay the Bokke a large sum of money if they win this World Cup. GO BOKKE GO!!!

  • Colin - 2011-08-24 10:48

    Good luck to the most respected captain in world rugby-the team certainly needs you -so go get em -most of us are behind you and those who are not can find some other sport to damage- Good luck John and the team you will do us proud

  • Waldez - 2011-08-24 10:56

    Feel so sorry for the guys who did not make itHell its a big disappointment when you expect your name to be read out and you don't hear your name . Ask me i know what is like .Sad Sad day in any player's life. Good Luck to our Springbok Team ,i am sure you will make us proud !!!

  • Riaan - 2011-08-24 11:02

    I hope all the people who like slating John Smit will have enough balls to admit they were wrong after we win the world cup

      Facts - 2011-08-24 12:18

      I am not JS fan at all and I will be the first one to admit if I was wrong but I fear my response will remain " I told you so" and Pdv and JS will say "Thank you we will take it" (that’s now the money).

  • Uninformed - 2011-08-24 11:11

    This man gave us a world cup trophy. All my respect goes to him. With that being said I think its time to pass the torch John.

  • - 2011-08-24 11:16

    Screw it; Just do it... the cards have been dealt, play with the hand. GO BOKKE!!

  • Superdude - 2011-08-24 11:24

    I think Smit is in denial, like Gaddafi, he has held on to power for to long keeping better players like Bismarck and Chiliboy on the sidelines at his expense.

  • Storm Bru - 2011-08-24 11:25

    Smit has been a true Bok in all senses. I have the utmost respect for him and believe he is a great to be remembered. But I have my doubts that he can deliver enough at the RWC. He is older and slower and no amount of effort on the field will change that and it can cost us. I hope not and wish him to silence his critics and prove me wrong - somehow I doubt it with the super fit and fast NZ team he cannot keep up anymore.

  • cj - 2011-08-24 11:30

    I must say, having listened to and read JS's comments about this issue carefully over the past year, one does get the impression that it's all about making history for him. If his attitude had been " look, I make myself available, but if I am considered to not be good enough anymore, so be it " it would have been different, but that is not his attitude. I believe you pick the best team, then the captain. JS's captaincy has not helped in the Tri Nations one bit, how can he make the side on captaincy ? The team has been chosen and must be supported, but the debate whether JS must play in the big games is not over.

  • DAMAINMAN - 2011-08-24 11:50


  • AgPseDaddy - 2011-08-24 11:53

    He is not a worrior it is just all the water retention he carries that makes him 'thick' skin !!

  • Chantal - 2011-08-24 11:54

    John Smit has served the Boks and the nation well.I am pleased he is not been disgarded because of a rough patch. The rest of the Rugby world has not had as many victories. Come on the hooker scored two tries in two weeks give him credit were credit is due.He is a great captain and we should all support him now when he needs us most. Go Bokke Go Smit shut all you critics up.

  • SP - 2011-08-24 12:10

    Funny how touching other guys' backsides and running with a ball makes you a warrior.

  • fromthecouch - 2011-08-24 12:13

    As a long-time John Smit fan, the media commotion surrounding the skipper has been rather disappointing. I too concede that John is more wily veteran than world number one, but he has never given anything but his best.

  • BlueSilver - 2011-08-24 12:15

    @ Paul, well said! Go Bokke, you can do it!!!