Boks: Smith to sneak back too?

2014-05-26 17:06
Juan Smith (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – It’s not in the immediate pipeline and might take a fair old tally of injuries for him to get a recall, but Juan Smith adds an intriguing element to the “veterans club” bidding to squeeze in one more World Cup for the Springboks in 2015.

If the 37-year-old Victor Matfield, 33-year-old Jean de Villiers, 32-year-old Fourie du Preez and one or two other thirtysomethings can find themselves right in the frame for the tournament, then why not the tough-as-teak former Cheetahs flank favourite, 32?

Never forget that another Bloemfontein-based cult figure, Os du Randt, came out of injury-enforced retirement, and a little against the odds, to add a 2007 World Cup winner’s medal to his maiden one achieved a whole 12 years earlier.

In the case of Smith, who has somehow clawed back from a handful of Achilles tendon operations and once gloomy pronouncements on his future playing prospects, he would be having a stab at his own second hoisting of the Webb Ellis Cup only eight years apart.

An unassuming, likeable character for whom team ethic is truly tops, the lanky but powerful blindsider has earned rich laurels in the English media for his influential performance in Toulon’s Heineken Cup final victory over Saracens – an affair liberally spiced with South Africans – at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Smith, who earned 69 Bok caps between 2003 and 2010, and had some two and a half years out of action after rupturing his Achilles in a Super Rugby match against the Bulls in early 2011, has been slowly building a fresh head of personal steam for his French club.

But he hit an exquisitely-timed peak in the European showpiece, after which the London-based Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk) gave him top match rating for Toulon of nine out of 10, saying: “One brilliant tackle on Billy Vunipola to dislodge the ball typified his hard-hitting display and (he) relished a head-to-head with Jacques Burger. Thoroughly deserved his try.”

In the same paper’s match report, writer Steve James described his performance as “mountainous”.

Smith was responsible for one of the otherwise brutal match’s most fluid moments when he was involved in some slick interplay out wide - after collecting an awkward pass from burly centre Mathieu Bastareaud slightly behind his back - before surging over elegantly for Toulon’s second try.

There was further praise for Smith from veteran critic Eddie Butler of The Guardian: “A special word for Juan Smith, the former Springbok, who was brilliant throughout.

“When confrontation was the sole order of the day, he made as many tackles as anyone, most of them bone-jarringly effective.

“But when the hermetically sealed stadium allowed a gasp of artfulness to seep in, Smith was there, passing, interchanging, alert.”

Willem Alberts is the incumbent Bok No 7 flank and a pretty routine pick by coach Heyneke Meyer.

The “Bone Collector” is a particular handful with ball in his grasp at close quarters and for huge tackles, but the seasoned Smith may well still have an edge over him as an overall “skills package” and also as a world-class lineout forward.

A little further down the line, watch this space?

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  juan smith  |  rugby

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

01 October 2016
South Africa v Australia, Pretoria 17:05
02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand, Buenos Aires 00:10
08 October 2016
South Africa v New Zealand, Durban 17:05
Argentina v Australia, London 20:30
05 November 2016
Barbarians v South Africa, London 17:00
12 November 2016
England v South Africa, Twickenham 16:30
19 November 2016
Italy v South Africa, Stadio Artemio Franchi 16:00

The Springboks have two more Rugby Championship matches - against Australia in Pretoria (October 1) and New Zealand in Durban (October 8). How will the Boks fare in those Tests?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


Big month in the world of golf as the FedEx Cup concludes on the PGA Tour, the Race to Dubai gathers steam on the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour offers local golfers the chance to bank some cash. Oh, and not forgetting the USA v Europe Ryder Cup showdown at Hazeltine!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.