Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Springbok captain John Smit has admitted for the first time that senior Springboks are “playing too much rugby” but said it was up to his side to get themselves out of the hole they dug themselves into in this year’s Tri-Nations series.
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Smit spoke to Talk Radio 702 about his 100th cap for the Springboks, a game that ended in disappointment as the captain missed a crucial tackle that gave the All Blacks a last gasp victory in front of 94 000 heartbroken fans.
The Bok captain said he was “relieved” to be past the milestone and now to be able to concentrate on the rugby again. “The sun actually came it up when we thought it wouldn’t. It is amazing to see that,” Smit told 702. “You got to look at yourself and the mistakes. To lose a test in that manner was very emotional for me. Losing is one thing and I understand it. It doesn’t mean I like it.”
Smit said while the team had experienced a similar nightmare in the 2006 Tri-Nations and returned a year later to win the Rugby World Cup, this should not be taken as a given ahead of next year’s defence of their World Cup title.
There are growing alarm bells as to the way the Boks faded in the final quarter and increased worry that senior members of the side have played too much rugby.
“There are far too many similarities to be comfortable with,” Smit explained.
“It is important not to use 2006 as an excuse and be comfortable with it and then to think that in 2011 we will be as good as we were in 2007.
“That is the trap we can’t fall into. In 2010 we have a much more experienced side that is getting beaten like this. Perhaps it is a high mileage thing where some players have had a bit too much rugby and their bodies are talking.”
Smit said though that he still sees light at the end of the tunnel.
“Suspensions haven’t helped us either, and as much as we have excuses, we only have ourselves to blame. There is hurt and this weekend will highlight that. We’ve felt this feeling before. You want to reflect back on this in a year’s time when you need it – when you’re 20-all against Fiji. You want to remember this hurt. You want to reference back to this moment when you feel like actual death to get you out of that,” Smit added.
“Hopefully we can do that and keep our intensity like that for seven weeks in a year’s time.” Smit looked ahead at the Australia game, talking about the positives he takes out of the defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.
“ It’s always hard talking after the game when you are the loser. To be honest, we had very little to take out of the first three games. This one we know if we are a little closer intensity we want every week, we know we can make any team ordinary.
“This is the team that is leading the way in world rugby and suddenly their passes went down and we were tackling them backwards. Suddenly we started to look like world champions again.
“Sunday I woke up and realised the biggest positive is that if we play right we will win any game every time.”