Rassie injects energy: Smit

2011-05-02 14:22
John Smit (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – The addition of Western Province senior professional coach Rassie Erasmus to the Springbok strategic mix for the World Cup amounts to “an injection of energy”, says reappointed national captain John Smit.

Smit told a Newlands media briefing on Monday, after he and vice-captain Victor Matfield had unsurprisingly been confirmed as the senior Bok on-field personnel for the 2011 international season, that 38-year-old Erasmus’s appointment represented “a huge asset” to the cause.

“I had the privilege of playing with Rassie, and he was unbelievable. And as a guy who knows the game, his attention to detail is sublime. For instance with me he’ll not only examine the number of tackles I might be making but also how I’m making them – that kind of detail (can only) improve ourselves.

“We had a taste of Rassie four years ago for some two or three weeks in this very same room, I think (at a Newlands hotel) -- we spent hours going through detail and Rassie was a massive part of that.

“At the time he was about to sign here (for WP). We’re lucky to now have more of that over the next few months.”

Bok coach Peter de Villiers said he felt Erasmus could make “a significant difference” to their quest to retain the World Cup.

Meanwhile De Villiers also affirmed his preference for veteran Smit to mostly wear the No 2 jersey for the Springboks.

“To me John is a hooker,” he said, adding defiantly: “I think if you look at how people envy this wealth of experience and talent we have in South Africa, they will do everything to break it down.

“It’s for us not to believe it, and to stand together and try to derail these kind of influences from outside.”

De Villiers was presumably referring, to some extent, to the strong school of thought that Bismarck du Plessis is worthier, from a purely playing point of view, of starting at hooker for South Africa.

Yet the potential for some flexibility within the Bok mix clearly remains.

Asked earlier by Sport24 whether he expected his positional role to remain versatile, the Bok skipper had said: “What I’m going to do is expect anything; play well and do as best I can going forward for the Sharks to the finish of this (Super Rugby) tournament, in whatever opportunities I get ... (even if it involves) all three front-row positions.

“If that (situation) can add value to a coach like Peter for the Springboks then that’s what I will do. If versatility is something that is presented to me then I will take it up to the best of my ability.”

Smit confessed to some periods of personal doubt about his making it through to another World Cup.

“It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride. Going into the 2007 World Cup I’d already signed to go to France, and I’d sort of negotiated to myself that that was going to be the last hurrah for the Springboks.

“So getting a second lifeline and playing again (from) 2008 under Peter and having amazing memories in that time, including 2009 being so awesome ... it made me more and more determined to get to this World Cup.

“Doubt plays a part in any sportsman’s life, I think, so when you get this sort of (opportunity) you’ve just got to train harder and fight harder and stick to your guns.

“Yes, there were times in the last four years when I thought: is this a real possibility? It hasn’t become a reality yet; we’re a step closer but there’s a lot still to happen before we even get to a squad of 30 (being chosen for the RWC).”

Read more on:    rwc 2011  |  john smit  |  rassie erasmus  |  boks

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