Neutrals call for Smit's head

2011-09-13 22:32

John Bishop

Durban - The parrot-cry for Bismarck du Plessis to replace John Smit at hooker in the Springbok World Cup team has become deafening and now even the neutrals are joining in the chorus.

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The impact which Du Plessis made in the final quarter against Wales, and his powerful influence for the first hour against the All Blacks in the Port Elizabeth Test last month, have underlined his reputation as the most effective hooker in world rugby.

But Bok coach Peter de Villiers has attached that label to Smit and embarrassed his captain by declaring him the “best hooker in the world” at a media briefing last week.

Smit, fitter, lighter, motivated and more physically involved than he has been since 2009, is not playing badly. But the bottom line is simply that a younger, stronger and more dynamic player has more to offer and deserves to start.

Even those watching from a distance are now having their tuppence worth.

Stuart Barnes, the former England flyhalf and respected television commentator, said he was mightily impressed with Du Plessis’ efforts against the All Blacks astonished that Smit was preferred to him against Wales.

And on Tuesday, writing in the London Telegraph, the ex-England lock Paul Ackford clambered aboard the bandwagon.

Ackford described Smit as the rock on which the current Bok team has been built but says that coach Peter de Villiers has to pension him off or pay a heavy price.

“Smit, in his pomp, was a mobile rallying point. His work at the lineout and in the scrummage was first rate. His power on those short charging bursts often attracted two or three defenders. His hands were good, but more than all of this, he was the public face of Springbok rugby as well as the man inside the camp who held it all together.

“And now Smit is finished, even if he appears reluctant to acknowledge the fact himself. The thing with great players is that they never fall off the cliff altogether.”

Ackford writes that Smit, as a once great player, knows the shortcuts and has masked his decline.

“Coaches, either for sentimental reasons or because they cannot identify the moment when a legend finally becomes a liability, instinctively hang on to the guys who have served them so well."

Smit’s place in history is assured after he led the Springboks to victory in the 2007 World Cup and against the 2009 British Lions.

“But history may also record that it was against Wales in South Africa’s opening encounter of the 2011 World Cup that Smit finally lost his grip on Test rugby,” says Ackford.

“De Villiers has to ask himself whether Smit or du Plessis is the best hooker in the party. Not the best leader. Not the most articulate, nor the most trusted, nor the most inspirational. Just the best hooker. My bet is deep down he knows the answer.”

Ackford might well be right but with De Villiers you never quite know and he has now further muddied the waters by telling the media that selection would be on a horses for courses basis and that the three hookers in the squad - Smit, Du Plessis and Chiliboy Ralepelle - all provided something different.

He said the bench “made a hell of a difference” against the Welsh on Sunday.

“I think that is the way to go, to keep something up your sleeve.”

“We look at it holistically and then we make our decisions there, because definitely there are some attributes that Bizzy (Du Plessis) has that John doesn’t have, and there are some that Chilli (Ralepelle) has that the other two don’t have.”

Could De Villiers still seriously be contemplating overlooking Du Plessis again in the interests of keeping something up his sleeve?

Or is he just reluctant to grasp the nettle?

The Witness

  • FollowDaLead - 2011-09-13 22:42

    He is facing the longest river in Africa, DENIAL PDV, be brave, be bold and drop Spies and Smit and Habana

      Steyts - 2011-09-13 22:46

      Agreed, all three of them are definitely not the best in their position by a long shot!!

      za101 - 2011-09-13 23:26

      just like ANC. For 1 man, they going to sacrifice the whole team and country

      Luckybugger - 2011-09-14 01:51

      JS is in it for himself now and not doing whats in the best interest of his king and country, rugby is a 15 man game including a captain, not a 14 man game and a captain. JS do the right thing and step down, even if you have to fake a injury.

      roboman1 - 2011-09-14 02:51

      The way to defeat is to sow dissent amongst the Springboks. Who in this article is proposing these changes, Bishop, hardly a rugby expert, and barneds and Ackford ex English rugby players? Like hellooooo, should we be picking our team on the advice of these three? No.

      Timothy - 2011-09-14 06:34

      Not often I agree with Pdv but in my humble opinion Smiths presence on the field counts for 3 men. Yes he is slow, unfit and not as mobile as he used to be but whenever he touches the ball or hits a ruck you can clearly see he gives 110% that is inspirational and that is what makes him a great player

      Shane - 2011-09-14 06:46

      drop morne steyn as well and stop playing one dimensional rugby

      Kevin - 2011-09-14 06:56

      NOT SMIT

      Dave - 2011-09-14 07:08

      It's not about one man people. Sure Bissie is better than Smit and must start. However Spies, Habana, Morne Steyn and Fourie du Preez are all well below par. So replace all 5! The focus on one man as the source of all our problems is nonsensical

      navarac - 2011-09-14 07:26

      ... and JP, and Danie.

      Marx - 2011-09-14 07:27

      It seems Smit has become bigger than the game........

      Makutu - 2011-09-14 08:53

      Tomothy is smoking hyena fur! What the heck are you saying dude? John Smit is finished, same with your eyes.

      BlueRaven - 2011-09-15 09:30

      It will all fall on deaf ears... Smit will not be dropped and he will not step down, we may as well make peace with it. Go Bokke!

  • mozzer - 2011-09-13 22:53

    the only person that doesn't know this is the moron in charge of the team. Viva affirmative action!!!!

      roboman1 - 2011-09-14 02:59

      Just reading all these negative comments worries me about my countrymen. The team is there, the skipper is Smit, support the Bokke. Now is not the time to sow dissent. These comments typify "boere" mentality, you cannot unite, you have to backstab your leaders, it is in the boere DNA, I swear, goes back to the days of Paul Kruger, Reitz etc. Come on guys, it is world cup time now, we have a team, we have a skipper, we have a coaching group including Rassie, now is the time to unite and support them. Only the ex English players quoted in this article should be wishing for a internal melt down of the Springboks and the firing of the captain in the middle of the world cup, not us South African supporters? What is wrong with you people?

      Karoobloed - 2011-09-14 06:28

      Nonsense. And you should be ashamed of your stereotyping - it is not just Afrikaans speaking supporters that wish to see the number 1 hooker in the world take his rightful place on our team. At this level of play it is crazy to have even one passenger on the team.

      Hennie Kotze - 2011-09-14 10:25

      @roboman, loud of crap. generalizing like that? what an a-hole

      roboman1 - 2011-09-14 15:08

      I can gladly support what you call generalising with substance, firstly, and secondly, anyone who calls for the Skipper to be dropped at this stage of the World Cup must be mentally challenged. I am a big Bismarck fan, and I believe he is a top player, but right now I support my side, and know that sowing division will only cause our downfall. In unity lies strength! So, I maintain that just because you do not like the honest assessment of our history does not make it untrue!

  • Psy - 2011-09-13 22:55

    @ Steyts - So whois the best hooker then?

      Henry - 2011-09-13 23:03

      John Smit was never the best hooker in SA.Better than John - Bismarck , Tiaan , Adriaan , Chilliboy. I will stop with this 4 as it will on embarrasing where to slot John in.

      Baylion - 2011-09-13 23:04


      bokgat1 - 2011-09-13 23:05


      roboman1 - 2011-09-14 03:04

      and by the way, Mr. John Bishop, since when are Barnes and Ackford, ex English players "neutrals" as in your headline? Rubbish man, your article is a load of shallow un-researched drivel. If you said ex English players rally behind the English cause to de-stabilise the Springbok machine, perhaps you could quote these people. and as for the shallow supporters here on this website, well you are also helping the England/Australian/New Zealand cause by climbing on this bandwagon.

      Notuagain - 2011-09-14 07:32

      @ roboman1: I agree with you. England/Aus/NZ and a few others would love to see John Smit off the field. Sadly, many locals are quick to jump on the bandwagon of the 'next best' and discard our top players. It's as if they are looking for a quick fix when we all know it's damn hard work at the top. We should be encouraging JS and the team, not trashing them.

      Dave - 2011-09-14 08:17

      @Henry oh come on. John Smit has never been the best? 2007? Is that objective or emotional? Even now he is better than many of the ones you mention. I have watched him head to head against tiaan a few times and John is better. I don't debate that bissie is not better. We also need to focus on the other problem areas 1, 8, 9, 10 and 11

  • Stufflé - 2011-09-13 22:58

    The fact that Smit does not walk away himself, shows that he, as captain, is not acting in the best interest of the team any more. His integrity as captain is now in question and legacy has been tainted PS I have a top that belonged to Smit. Now worthless!!

      Buffalo - 2011-09-14 05:59

      Only worthless because it now belongs to you . . .

      Brannas - 2011-09-14 08:22

      The whole world except Div and SAFFA-CAT can see that Smit is useless

  • Ogunsipe - 2011-09-13 23:23

    "The bench" might work against Wales but if you're 20 points behind against Australia or New Zealand in the last 20 not even Du Plessis can save you Pieter. Swallow your damn pride and do the right thing.

  • Davearch - 2011-09-13 23:32

    My bet is he does not !! PDIV is useless, a Government appointment !! How sad ...

  • gatvol4corru - 2011-09-13 23:34

    Get rid of Captain Slow! He overstayed his usefulness and we are not fielding the best players with the likes of him

  • BryanJhb - 2011-09-13 23:35

    I recall Penny Heyns standing down in the relay medley event at the Sydney Olympics in favour of her counterpart that was on a similar level to her at that stage (I forget the girl's name). That it was a gr8 sports person does!

  • marco - 2011-09-13 23:36

    My biggest concern however,even though I have to agree with John Bishop on almost everything being said,is what happens if Bismarck du Plessis gets injured before we reach the knockout stages of the Worldcup.What then?Have we really got only three hookers in the Springbok team at the minute?Why can't PDV play Bismarck in our next six games, if go that far,until we've wrapped up victory and then bring on Smit or Chiliboy Ralepelle in the last 20 or so minutes if they so desire.With Bismarck being the best number 2 in world rugby at this point in time,why not wrap him up in cotton wool whilst we reach the knockout stages and use him sparingly if PDV get what I mean.

  • Veld66 - 2011-09-13 23:36

    We hve known this for a long time that this guys is past his sale by date....Old man out!!!! drop him from the team: but let him stay with the team for the duration of the RWC,, the team will need need for Boerwors braai sessions. Put Bismarck (the German) to help the team return the Webb Ellis trophy

  • Andrew Brady - 2011-09-13 23:50

    This has now become an International laughing matter. Between Smit and Piet Helium they are making all of us look as if we don't know what the hell we are doing. If I had been Du Plessis I would take my talent and go make money somewhere else and forget about these clowns.

  • AA - 2011-09-13 23:52

    Remember when Bob Skinstad was the darling and he was taken to te world cup in spite of an injury? Disaster. Smit is past his use by date.

  • Buck - 2011-09-14 00:03

    This is going to cost us the WC! Enough is now enough, someone needs to step in and break up this cosy relationship between Peter and Grandpa!

      riaan swart - 2011-09-14 06:30


  • Michael - 2011-09-14 00:51

    Scam to try and destabilise the captain and team. Those who don't support just hinder...

      mobiles - 2011-09-14 01:00

      Agree with you ! These morons fall for it !

      BlueBalls - 2011-09-14 02:33

      A couple of jackasses you are.

  • poolboy - 2011-09-14 01:11

    I'll be honest, I'm a John Smit fan, but am tending to agree, I thing he is over, why keep someone in the team on reputation alone when there are better options?

  • Kleinboet - 2011-09-14 01:11

    When I said before the RWC squad was announced that Smit should step down as captain and stay at home, I was branded as unpatriotic and a fool knowing nothing about rugby. Now we are stuck with him for the duration of this tournament and it is not going to do any good to call for his head. You could sack him as captain even one day before the RWC but cannot do it now. It would be like changing horses in the middle of a river in flood. The best we can do now is to limit his time on the field of play to the minimum and hope for the best. If I, who have never liked the man at all, can support him out of necessity then so can the rest of you. Crucifying him now will have an adverse effect on the whole team.

      Theo - 2011-09-14 06:24

      Kleinboet, Jack, the players are already effected by this, the problem is that the coach is unable or unwilling to limit the damage , he doesn't have to play Smit at the outset.

  • OutbackJack - 2011-09-14 01:56

    We love John Smit. Keep him in your side. Go Wallabies!

  • Philip - 2011-09-14 02:11

    Hi Besim bek wake up if you want the Boks to defend the world Cup

  • Adrian - 2011-09-14 02:45

    u can't win a world cup without a strong leader, and John Smit is still that man, for this world cup, the mind boggles such a very important point can be over looked for a replacement that his quicker but would create a massive void of leadership in the team, it was most obvious when "Matfield went off in the last twenty due to injury and Butch made a good call to kick for the goal kine to score a try, but bar Butch ther was no one stepping up to the plate and Forie du Preez is not an appropriate leader, not at all, John stays for this world cup!!

      mycentswrth - 2011-09-14 06:33

      Adrian, what's wrong with you. Where was his leadership during the TRI-Nations. Also, the bokke were trailing Wales while JS was on the field and took the lead once Bissmarck came on. Schalk, Matfield, Brussow, anyone of them can be captain.

  • Chris in Oz - 2011-09-14 03:13

    If the Boks stop anywhere short of winning the cup, John Smit (and the coaching team too), should take a flight to Harare, hitch-hike to somewhere close to Beitbridge and then during the night slip over the crocodile infested Limpopo River border somewhere between Beitbridge and Pafuri . That is the only way they will get back into SA alive.

      BlueBalls - 2011-09-14 03:53

      I don't think your idea is going to work. There are probably Bok supporters in Beitbridge and Pafuri as well and they'll be on the lookout.

      Chris in Oz - 2011-09-14 04:00

      @Blueballs. How about they board an oil tanker, jump overboard and swim to a beach on the Transkei coast? But there'd be Bok supporters too....... I think they'll be better off flying into Darfur and stay there for a few years untill the dust settles.

      BlueBalls - 2011-09-14 04:33

      Ha ha ha ha. There are Bok supporters in Darfur as well. I think 'Priester' from this forum is based there. Nee wat, they can run but there's nowhere to hide.

  • Brannas - 2011-09-14 05:12

    Everybody in the world can see that Smit is over the hill except Div and SAFFA-CAT.

  • Barry Edwards - 2011-09-14 05:36

    Hopefully our captain is playing coming off the bench in our next match

  • Rashied - 2011-09-14 06:17

    Support the team, not the player. Pienaar was not the best player when he led the boks in '95, Tiaan Straaus was. Support the BOKKE!.

      Grunk - 2011-09-14 09:31

      But at least he was No 2 in the country. Smit isn't even in the Top 4 - Maku has been playing some good rugby this season and Sharks have got at least one more Hooker other than Bismarck better than Smit so that makes him probably in the region of 7th or 8th best hooker in the country. No side can carry that type of useless baggage.

  • Wayne Poisson - 2011-09-14 06:31

    This is de Villiers' defining moment. Does he want the Boks to go forward or lose to Fiji in embarrassing fashion.

  • Claude - 2011-09-14 06:42

    Peter de Villiers has been nothing but an embarrassment to South Africa and Rugby and his stubborn insistence on keeping Smit at hooker when there are two better hookers in the squad will be the Springboks downfall. I saw no glimmer of the so called inspirational leadership against Wales! In fact the team and the leadership improved when Smit went off.

  • thyspelser - 2011-09-14 08:24

    Enige een wat iets van rugby af weet, sien die tekens al die laaste 18 maande. Net JS en die 3 stootches ignoreer die waarheid. Selfs Plum het dit al besef.

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