Smith a leader by example
Juan Smith (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein – Juan Smith is not known as a player who talks a lot. That is why he would lead by example as a Springbok captain.
The Bok flank, who is known as a strong leader and man of few words, made his mark as captain at Super 14 and Currie Cup level through leading by example.
He does not intend changing his approach if, as expected, he skippers the Boks in John Smit’s absence in Britain and Ireland in November.
“I’d like to play with the same intensity that I did for the Cheetahs in the Super 14 (they were unbeaten for the last four games). I don’t want to just lead by words,” said Smith.
“It will obviously be a huge honour to lead the Boks.”
Smith, however, does not need to be reminded that the Boks struggled in Europe last year while he and a number of other stars were absent.
South Africa beat Italy 32-10, but lost against Ireland (10-15), Saracens (23-24), France (13-20) and Leicester (17-22).
“I believe this year’s tour will be an exciting one if Peter (de Villiers, Springbok coach) decides to rest certain of his players. With a year to go before the World Cup and young blood getting a chance, the players will be determined to challenge for places (beyond New Zealand in 2011),” said Smith.
“We have enough depth in all the positions (should players get the chance to rest) and cannot offer that as an excuse.”
Smith is hungry for Test rugby after missing last year’s end-of-season Bok tour and the start of this year’s Super 14 due to injuries. He also did not play in the Boks’ Tri-Nations tour matches due to his father’s unexpected death.
No official announcement has been made by the South African Rugby Union (SARU), but lock Victor Matfield, who would be the strongest contender to stand in for Smit, is expected to stay at home.
This year’s Bok tour can be more difficult than in 2009, with matches against Ireland (November 6), Wales (November 13), Scotland (November 20), England (November 27) and a game against the Barbarians (December 4).
Former Bok flank André Venter said that he has no doubt that Smith will be up for the task in difficult conditions in Britain and Ireland.
“Juan will have the respect of his fellow players because of his uncompromising play. You can only be successful as captain if you have the respect of your team-mates. He is a certainty for the Bok team,” said Venter.