Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Springbok captain John Smit took a broad swipe at the media on Monday, saying a number of so-called conspiracy theories about the team were being “made up” by the press.
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Smit was talking to 702 morning show host John Robbie when he was asked about the problems in the camp. The Boks slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat in this year’s Tri-Nations on Saturday, losing to the All Blacks and raising massive question-marks about this team’s ability to defend their World Cup crown in New Zealand in a year’s time.
“I think all these conspiracy theories are stories that have been made up by people who write about us. They just can’t understand that we can lose a game of rugby with the team that we have,” Smit told 702.
“As an eternal optimist I look at it as a pat on the back as to what we should be achieving and what we are not achieving. I can ramble on about ructions in the team, the split in the coaching team or that I was supposed to retire after the game on Saturday, the stories can go on and on.
“The guys who write don’t know enough about this team and they have to start thinking about these things. The reality is that the team love each other, they are like a family. When I ran out onto the field on Saturday there were six or seven guys who have played more than 50 tests with me. These guys have been there when my kids were born. We really are a tight unit.
Smit indicated the criticism of his team would force them to close ranks, and they could now only look to each other to get the Springboks back onto a winning road.
“You must remember as well that when we lose, it is far more difficult to speak out of the camp. The unit becomes tighter. We have to stick together. As far as the conspiracy theories go, I can tell you we’re hating life at the moment,” Smit continued.
“If you think back to when last a Springbok team lost four in a row, and it was in 2006. We have only ourselves to get out of this, and we now have two more opportunities and we want to win the Mandela Cup. That is what we will be focusing on.
““The conspiracy theories will go on and on. After my press conference on Friday I had to answer off the record whether there would be 101 caps. This weekend will see Victor get his milestone but the two of us will be so relieved when this is over and we can get on with the rugby.”
Smit’s fitness has been the subject of debate as on Saturday he was clearly off the pace once again, and missed the crucial tackle that allowed the All Blacks to win the game. He remains, however, a massive cog in the team management and his influence has consistently been a positive on the side.