Smith loss no reason to panic

2011-08-18 10:32

JJ Harmse

The news that Juan Smith ruled himself out of contention for the Rugby World Cup is a massive blow for the Springboks in their quest to retain the Webb Ellis Cup.

The Bloemfontein legend would not only have provided coach Peter de Villiers with the go-forward ball so needed in Test match rugby, but also some very influential leadership in a team already laden with experience.

I can clearly recall the incident where Smith snapped his Achilles in the opening weeks of Super Rugby while playing against the Bulls in Bloemfontein.

The respect he has among his peers was very obvious and when he left the field, the likes of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha almost walked him to the touchline to make sure he was okay.

Afterwards Matfield admitted that Smith was closer to the two “Blood Brothers” than most.

“Bakkies and I have played almost 70 Tests with Juan and probably not half of that with most of my Super Rugby team-mates at the Bulls. So he remains very a very close friend,” the Bulls lock said at the time.

Smith himself was working so, so hard to make the squad. He recently travelled up to Johannesburg where he spent three weeks running on a specially designed treadmill, working with Dr Jon Patricios. All of this of course was in vain.

His bravery to fight the pain barrier on a daily basis in order to serve his country is typical of the warrior he is.

His decision to pull out, rather than travel as a passenger is another indication of the man he is. Comments from bloggers on this site are suggesting/hoping/hinting that certain other players should also do the brave thing and retire before the team is announced, but I am afraid we are not going to see that, are we?

The big question is now who will replace Smith, but the answer is fairly obvious.

Schalk Burger should wear the No 7 jersey and with Heinrich Brüssow getting back to fitness as well, De Villiers has a very nice loose trio combination forced upon him.

Brüssow, Burger and Pierre Spies has a very nice ring to it, thank you, especially if you have Willem Alberts playing off the bench, who can cover 7 and 8. Danie Rossouw can now revert back to third lock, with the option of him playing in the loose forwards, should the need arise.

I was delighted to see Spies showcasing his immense talents against the Wallabies last weekend.

Suddenly we saw the best of the man with ball in hand, running menacingly and at great speed. He looked like the real deal and if he delivers again on the weekend, our World Cup opponents should be worried.

What I also liked was the way he was worked into space by the Boks. There was a clear plan to get the big man to run with the ball and to use his exceptional pace and athleticism in open spaces.

The Bulls used Spies as a premier ball carrier in Super Rugby and that worked against the former 100m athlete, especially as it was easy to mark him in that fashion.

Against the Wallabies, the Boks feinted a move to the openside, Bryan Habana came in off the wing and before you could blink, Spies was eating up the metres on the blindside.

Clearly a move perfected at the Royal Marang get-together?

The return of Brüssow is also crucial to the Boks.

“Heinz”, as he is known to his team-mates, was quite frustrated on the recent Tri-Nations tour as he didn't get the nod to take on his opponents, but he should feel much happier after coming through the Wallabies clash with flying colours.

Expect him to be even better against the All Blacks on Saturday.

As it is, the mentioned loose trio combination of Brüssow, Burger and Spies will probably not play together before the opening match of the World Cup against Wales in Wellington on September 11, but that shouldn't send out panic signals.
Individually, all three will have their own markers on their road to full fitness, but as a unit, I think they will go very well.

As will the Boks.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


  • Raka13 - 2011-08-18 10:47

    JJ- must admit, it will be a very effect loose trio - if and only if Spies stays at the party. Alberts and Danie on the bench will be great, we couldn't really ask for better. Hopefully Sirmeulen will also go to the World Cup, as a specialist nr8 as Spies's form is not insured by outsurance.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:21

      Luckily Pierre Spies is no longer injured. Btw, where are all the people who called Pierre useless before last weekend now? Regards Frikkie

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:37

      I believe outsurance is part of the Freemasons. Every time a rugby player features in their adds he immediately becomes the invisible man.

      namibia24 - 2011-08-18 16:07

      Spies is a "Show Pony" and nothing more, he looks good, and is realy fast but does not have enough Rugby "GRIT" He will most probably stay in the team no matter what, but I would prefer to have him on in the last 20 minutes when his speed can actually convert into try's and as back-up for the "grafters" should they get injured.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:28

      Namib, you are a rude person.

      Obama Bin Laden - 2011-08-18 17:11

      Speedo Spies should captain SA at the g@y games

  • Marx - 2011-08-18 10:55

    Smit is a true champion and Legend. To have stepped down on his own and sit this one out shows the true character of the man and certainly shows some how it's done.

      Marx - 2011-08-18 11:02

      Sorry Smith, was probably hoping Smit had stepped down and not Smith.

      Frans Smith - 2011-08-19 22:09

      yes..huge pity - a great player, leader and gentlemen. Some people will not understand what a huge sacrifice he is making to put springbok rugby first - pity there is others that dont!

  • Anneleen - 2011-08-18 11:00

    The individuals will go well, as will the Bokke as a unit...go Bokke!!!!!

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:27

      Anneleen, you are always so optimistic about life. I want some of your Prozac.

      Anneleen - 2011-08-18 15:50

      @Biggest Bull...hoe gaan dit daar?

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:16

      Ag, help nie om te kla nie. Net moeg vir die winter. En jy?

      Bulldozer - 2011-08-18 16:17

      Cilift werk ook kwaai.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:24

      En Anusol.

      Anneleen - 2011-08-18 16:29

      @Biggest Bull...winter is amper verby, jong...hou moed. Ek kyk more uit vir jou kommentaar!

  • Avi27 - 2011-08-18 11:05

    Its definately a big lose that Juan is out esp if he was fully fit for the WC. It took a lot of guts to do what he did and its good to see some people in the team put the team and SA first. WC loose forwards, Brussow, Alberts and Burger with Spies on the bench? I think Alberts needs to start the big games with Bismark, just imagine the 2 of them with Beast, Schalk and Bakkies running at full throtle at the opposition. They definately punch through some holes and give us front foot ball and maybe if our backs support them and start showing their true potential we actually score a few tries. Spies can make a big impact off the bench and maybe his fresh legs can get a break away winning try for us. Go Bokke!!! All the best for Sat

  • jk - 2011-08-18 11:12


      Bulldozer - 2011-08-18 11:16

      Hy moet eerder skryf oor hoe lanklaas WP enige iets gewen het. 10 JAAR LAAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      jk - 2011-08-18 11:26

      kry tog iets anders om op te hammer, o sorry, jul brein kapasiteit en kennis strek nie so ver nie...

      Bulldozer - 2011-08-18 11:47

      Niks anders maak vir ons saak nie.

      jk - 2011-08-18 11:55

      wp is soos die real madrids en man uniteds van die wereld, almal wil n wereld reus sien val... maar dit sal nooit gebeur nie, anders gaan daar niks in SA rugby aan nie...

      Bulldozer - 2011-08-18 12:10

      Hulle val al die afgelope 10 jaar.

      tank - 2011-08-18 13:21

      Is julle Curriebeker of Super reeks kampioene? Jy vergelyk jou span met werklike ikone van sport, wat het julle werklik bereik in die afgelope paar jaar? Lees eerder net die berigte en moenie jou opinie lig nie, want jy maak jou naam lekker g@t!!

      jk - 2011-08-18 14:03

      tank- my opinie is al wat tel, so tank away thanks...

      BlouBos - 2011-08-18 14:24

      @jk - bepaal jou by die topic, jy is die een wat in ander artikels moun daar oor. EASTERN PROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVINCE I PERSUME, of is dit nou die Kings deesdae of die Luke "Puke" Watson XV tal. Hi jk, het geweet die vark Watson kom van die WP af.

      tank - 2011-08-18 14:36

      Nogal katterig van jou ou visbek...

      tank - 2011-08-18 14:47

      Ek verwys na jou

      jk - 2011-08-18 14:52

      bloubos- jy hoef my nie te vertel van wp of die watsons nie, rate nog steeds vir luke as los voorspeler. hulle gaan elk geval vir loftus oorneem...

      tank - 2011-08-18 15:15

      Al wat mens kan doen is lag vir jou absolute waansinnige opinie. Ek dog sommige Bul ondersteuners loop met oogklappe aan, maar jy vat die koek ou Visbek... Eers het ek vermoed jy is net dom astrant, maar nou besef ek dat jy die intelligensie van 'n snoek het ou Visbek. Nag ou Grote!!

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:23

      jk, presies WAT het jou hardlywige WP spannetjie met die artikel te doen?

      jk - 2011-08-18 15:29

      biggestbull tank- wat julle nie besef nie is dat wp rugby alles met elke artikel te doen het... bloutros- besef jy maar dat jy en jou flou nulle spannetjie nerens is nie

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:32

      jk, glo dit of nie, maar daar is lewe na die Currie Cup.

      jk - 2011-08-18 15:38

      biggestbull- wat op dees aarde kan na die c/beker wees.

      Tools1 - 2011-08-18 16:00

      jk - wat is die enigste verskill tussen jk(wpondersteuner) se das en n koei se stert?? tenminste maak die koei se stert die hele D@@s toe!

      jk - 2011-08-18 16:04

      ai tools, grappies op die soort van medium werk nooit nie, jy moet ma skerp wes... dis soos skilvers, jy het dit of jy het dit nie...

      DeonL - 2011-08-18 16:11

      Sterkte met Prov. en Bulle die naweek. In die ou dae is gesê as WP en N-Tvl sterk is is die Bokke sterk. WP is 4de en Bulle 6de op lys van CB, so Bokke gaan sukkel daaronder.

      Tools1 - 2011-08-18 16:17

      Ek probeer nie skerp of snaaks wees nie. Ek probeer op n mooi manier vir jou te se wa jy is!

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:27

      Ja jk, duidelik sukkel jy om jou buttons verkoop te kry vandag.

  • la Rey - 2011-08-18 11:32

    Jeez, It will rob be snowing all over RSA! JJ has wrote an intellectual article. I agree that Spies has had his best game since 2007 in a Bok jersey and I hope he can continue! It will be a brilliant loose trio. And if Spies drops his level Vermeulen might be threre to add real bulk!

      MB1810 - 2011-08-18 12:23

      People are still shouting for Vermeulen to play at the WC? I agree he had a great S15, I agree he was probably SA's best 8th man, but really, how long has it been since he's played? And would you really like to stick a debutant in his first test at number 8 in a WC match when he has not even practiced with the squad. I think realistically speaking Vermeulen is not part of Div's plans, a untested guy like himself will at best be picked as a replacement should Spies be injured. Div said it himself, about 90% of the squad has been finalised and I doubt an untested, injured guy is included in his plans. No disrespect towards Vermeulen, but I think Pierre will be first choice 8th man, Danie Rossouw a possible back up and Johnson, might even sneak in there before Vermeulen.

  • BB - 2011-08-18 11:38

    Wrong Smit!

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:24

      No pointless one-liners please. This is not Twitter.

      FearoPhobia - 2011-08-18 15:27

      @Biggest Bull, but pointless one-liners is all you've been posting for months now. Kinda hypocritical to call others out on it.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:30

      Who rattled YOUR cage "fearofforeskin"??

      FearoPhobia - 2011-08-18 15:45

      @Bull. No lame one-liners please. This is not twitter.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:17

      Pathetic comeback. Try again.

      FearoPhobia - 2011-08-18 17:21

      Well it's your comeback so I at least now you can see what they are.

  • Gavin Hundermark - 2011-08-18 11:39

    Respect to one of the Legends of Springbok rugby - putting the team before himself. Here's a thought: John is captain and has to go, Bismark is the best and has to go, Chili is..... well Chili is Chili and has to go. So play John at hooker, Chili on the bench and Bismark at 7! Both times we won RWC, we were playing a forward out of place (1995 Mark Andrews at 8, 2007 Danie Rosouw at 8), so 2011 Bismark at 7 (or would that have to be 8 to make sure we keep the pattern?)

      Avi27 - 2011-08-18 12:03

      If you want to play a player out position and keep the pettern than Bismark should start as hooker, smit to come off the bench (his experience is vital towards the last 20min of the game) If we playing a forward out off position then Schalk should move to No 8 and Alberts and Brussow can play at 7 and 6 respectively. This way we won't be taking a huge gamble and play the best hooker (Bismark) way out of position.

      GraemeBB - 2011-08-18 12:13

      @Avi 27 - Schalk will be the worst no 8 we can use. Geez, we have the likes of Spies, Alberts, Josh Straus and Vermeulen in this country. Making space for Burger on no8 is like making space for Smit at prop.

      Avi27 - 2011-08-18 12:18

      @ GraemeBB then what do you suggest? We need Alberts to start the big games for us. It takes 3/4 people to stop the guy.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:26

      Burger is no better no8 than Spies.

      Howzitekse - 2011-08-20 06:52

      Schak is n Yster, Spies is n Showpony

  • BlouBos - 2011-08-18 14:33

    JJ - The only thing to panic about is who to select of the vast amount of talent we have to our disposable.

      jk - 2011-08-18 14:55

      bloubos- jy praat seker nie van die bulle se talent nie...want daar issie!

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:25

      jk, ons weet nou al teen die tyd waar jou "ware talente" le.. het jy toe uit die kas geklim?

      jk - 2011-08-18 15:41

      bull- daar issie talent in pretoria nie boetie... niks,

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:18

      Daar is! Wat van SPIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES

  • johan.d.plessis - 2011-08-18 14:58

    To mr. Harmse. Good article, but please could you stop targeting John Smit. You do so every Sunday in Rapport, you do that where ever you get a platform and this has caused me to start doubting your integrity as a rugby expert. It really seems as if you have a personal vendetta against the man a rate so high. You can do nothing about him participating now so please can we start supporting him.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 15:29

      Johan, please refrain from using subliminal content in your posts. This is not Miami.

      jk - 2011-08-18 15:42

      jip, pretoria is not miami, at alll...

      FearoPhobia - 2011-08-18 15:43

      @Johan, in Tank's defense, he's not the only one who keeps hammering on the John Smit issue. After what we saw from Bismarck on Saturday nobody can argue that JS should be the 2nd choice hooker and should not go anywhere near the prop position. I have great respect for him but I'm beginning to lose some of that because he's abusing his "power" as a respected player to get himself selected week after week despite average performances. A bigger man would've fallen on his sword out of respect for the Bok emblem. I still support whatever team runs out on the field 100% though.

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:22

      @Fearofbeingbright, This is an article written by JJ HARMSE NOT TANK YOU CHOP

      FearoPhobia - 2011-08-18 17:25

      @BB. Thanks for caring.

  • Oukoos - 2011-08-18 15:52

    Luke Watson is still available

      jk - 2011-08-18 15:54

      luke is ok

      BiggestBull - 2011-08-18 16:20

      So is Oupa Terblanche, Earl Rose, Jorrie Muller, Schalk Brits..

  • Neilson - 2011-08-18 21:41

    I agree, Schalk should retire before the WC.

  • Josh Brown - 2011-08-19 01:04

    Massive loss!!! Shame. He's definitely a WORLD class player and the Boks will definitely miss him. He brings leadership and mobility to the flanking role. Apart from Burger, Spies and Brussow, the Boks flankers are these big SLOW lumbering guys who aren't very mobile. Oh well, it's good news for the other teams that's for sure. DIE WALLABY MASJIEN!!

  • aussiebok - 2011-08-19 01:57

    Spies is overrated.

  • patrickb - 2011-08-19 15:36

    A real pity about the "h".

  • fafa - 2011-08-22 06:47

    glad for the return of Brossouw , outstanding player ..Heinz You make my year...bokke goodluck with the RWC , no matter what you are and will alwayz be our world champs...John S ...your a good captain and with that comes will always be known as the 2007 world champ captain..the choice now 2011 RWC B.Du Plessis ( hooker) think outside 2 players , remember theres 15 other players that wants this WC just as bad , as there supportes..we need the best out there ....

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