Johannesburg - South African surfer Jordy Smith has backed his countrymen ahead of the Mr Price Balito ASP Prime event in KwaZulu-Natal starting on Monday.
Smith, the world number three, said the home advantage of countrymen Beyrick De Vries, Shaun Joubert and Chad Du Toit could make them difficult to beat.
"The South Africans are going to be the toughest competitors of the lot because they have experience at their home break," Smith said on Monday.
"It's going to be interesting to see how they go and it's a great opportunity for them to be able to compete in this calibre of event, at a break they are familiar with and have had time to practice at."
Smith also said he relished the chance to compete at home.
"It's an awesome time of year to be in South Africa and the North Coast really delivers," he said.
"To be doing the contest at home for once is great and it gets me really excited."
One of eight Prime Events on the World Tour, the contest offers the most rankings points outside of a World Championship Tour (WCT) event.