Smit gets stab at immortality

2011-10-06 08:33

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - It’s unparalleled greatness or bust now for John Smit, it seems.

You could probably say that the cat is finally out of the bag: with his selection as captain and occupier of the No 2 jersey for the Springboks’ World Cup quarter-final against Australia on Sunday, coach Peter de Villiers will also be considered by many judges to have issued his final confirmation that the 33-year-old really isn’t going to be some kind of mere, peripheral figurehead at the business end of the tournament.

All possibilities still existed for much of the group phase, let’s face it, with Smit and his younger Sharks team-mate Bismarck du Plessis experiencing both run-on and bench roles as the Boks eventually finished difficult Pool D as winners.

Yet with many distinguished neutrals in the rugby world still punting Du Plessis as possibly the best No 2 on the planet and the understudy probably doing more than Smit during Bok combat thus far to impress people in pure playing terms, there seemed room for the latter to inspire his men from the bench or even a blazer in the grand stand – thus leaving co-senior Victor Matfield to do the main match-day leadership task he is well acquainted with.

It is certainly a route I favoured immediately before RWC and then even more resolutely after Du Plessis made a critical, obvious late difference to the tottering cause in the awfully close-shave triumph over Wales.

Since then, though, give the ever-tenacious old guy his due: he has been picking up a good enough head of personal steam and going quite some way to allaying fears that he lacks the required dynamism for the Test job these days.

Smit ticks boxes in his complex head-to-head with Du Plessis, for instance, at key basics like lineout throwing and scrummaging, even if the reserve remains routinely more prominent in general play and especially at effecting turnovers.

Just as importantly, both Smit and his many allies in the “2007 veterans” department have mostly managed to persuade us all during the course of pool play that they do, indeed, possess the genuine, collective hunger for the elusive repeat quest.

Nor can his diplomatic and motivational skills be said to have waned – these are not things that disappear with the advance of age and they probably only get better.

It will be intriguing to see just how much game-time Smit gets against the Aussies, although obviously much of it may depend on the Boks’ health or otherwise on the scoreboard.

Noses in front or not, there may be strong sense in Du Plessis getting as much of the second half as possible.

But for the moment, John William Smit continues his march toward unprecedented achievement as a leader of rugby troops.

He will know deep down that in the hostile arena of punditry and spectatorship, vultures will already be circling, steeling themselves to blame it all – or at least nearly all -- on the captain if the Bok march at this tournament is suddenly stopped dead in its tracks in Wellington on Sunday.

And yes, that’s even if he happens to play out of his own socks on the day, I’m pretty sure.

Smit tweeted earlier this week: “Jeepers, I hope that’s my last Wellington landing, been landing in this wind for 13 years to play rugby!”

His still robust lobby of admirers will be praying that no ill wind blows Smit and his presently merry men out of town and right back across the Indian Ocean early next week.

The chunky hooker will make his 111th Test appearance on Sunday, a superstitious, shivers-inducing little figure to those partial to the summer code of cricket.

Feet up, everyone?

* Click HERE for the latest RWC odds on BET.CO.ZA


  • MWOS - 2011-10-06 08:41

    OH SPORT24 YOU SOUND LIKE A STUCK RECORD! In your sensationalist minds, was there any doubt that John Smit will come back to play this game STARTING at nr 2? The coach said many times he was just resting him and John will be starting come play off time. My goodness you guys really don't like our captain do you! Fact: The debate is over - John is the first choice hooker! Now drop the negativity towards your national captain and get on board with the rest of the country for goodness sake!

      SA-FAN - 2011-10-06 08:51

      Great comment Mvvos all this talking is getting irritating now!

      gc - 2011-10-06 08:52

      Right on brother, we need to back who on the paddick. KOM HARD BOKKE!!!

      mobiles - 2011-10-06 08:59

      Spot On ! News 24 thumbs down !

      Sheriffff - 2011-10-06 08:59

      ya bloody wankers sitting in the sport24 offices.

      Met - 2011-10-06 09:03

      Maybe they will call up Frik du Preez as replacement for Bakkies Botha

      Green Oaks - 2011-10-06 09:28

      As I said before on this site. We are going to need JS leadership in the tight games. Something that Victor Matfield does not quite have The players respect him, that is what is important. JS, I think has had a very very good World Cup. Sure he is not a Bismarck, but he has done all the basic correctly. Imagine Bismarck coming one with 20 or 30 to go. Devastating !!! So let’s get behind the Bokke and support them. GO BOKKE !!!!!!!

      GT - 2011-10-06 09:35

      If Bismark started, we WOULD NOT HAVE so many tight games!

      Met Uysh! - 2011-10-06 09:50

      Well said Willem. I am also fed up with this constant criticism of John and the Springboks by the Sport24 crew and one could hardly imagine that they are a South African based site!! One would have thought that the founders of "Bokday" would support the SPringboks 100%! The Boks certainly do not need these idiots, and I for one believe these Sport24 guys are the biggest hurdle to overcome en route to the world cup with their venom they spew over the Boks!

      Met Uysh! - 2011-10-06 09:51

      @GT Yeah really? So samoa wasn't a tight game, huh?

      LuMon - 2011-10-06 10:21

      Am I the only one who thinks that Rob Houwing was supporting Smit. I agree full on with the views in the article. Before the WC, I was pro-BDP starting but since then, Smitty has shown his value. On my reading, that is what this article is saying.

      Bellakanoose - 2011-10-06 11:56

      Hey Sport24, why do you keep deleting my comments. Is it because I know you guys are the trolls Maori, Johnny-BB and others?

      adam.ferreira3 - 2011-10-06 12:49

      Supporting the boks is what it is all about!!! GO BOOOKKKKKEEEE!!!

      LadyJustice - 2011-10-06 13:14


      ZACommentator - 2011-10-06 14:17

      Smit should not be on the field. EGO

  • Inkwe - 2011-10-06 08:42

    Sjeesh, I wish this debate would end already. Bismarck is better in the loose, we all know that. Scrummaging is pretty equal. John is more accurate in the line-out and it would be foolish to not pair up Victor and John for competing in the lineouts - a facet of play we need to dominate against the Aussies. If we lose our own lineout balls due to Bismarck's occasional inaccurate throwing, we're in for a long night. Bismark makes a massive, game changing difference as impact player, John will not but he will give you a steady hooker and good lineout option. Heck, lets play it that way then.

      Hooflungdung - 2011-10-06 09:10

      I actually think John is playing some of his best rugby that I have seen in a long time ... Our set pieces are more sound with John there!

      sniperman - 2011-10-06 09:58

      Play Bismarck at #8 instead of the lumbering lump of lard, Pierre Spies

      frans.visserdsb - 2011-10-06 11:11

      I also think we should play Bismark as a loosie - in the place of Spies. that will give you a hard man as a ball carrier in Schalk, and two fetchers in Brussouw and Bismarck. Then Bissie can play the loose game he loves...

      B-Rad - 2011-10-06 13:37

      Agreed Frans.... I've always said he would be better at loosie.... John is a better HOOKER. you cannot compare a hooker with a 'loosie'. The fundamental job for a hooker is throw perfect ball to your jumper and csrum well.... all of which John does most of the time and Bissie does least of the time.

  • Tools1 - 2011-10-06 08:46

    If you win it you will become a god.....if you lose you will be critisized and remembered for not letting go. But somthing tells me that it will be the former. You have captained every team you have been involved in your incredible career from school to junior Boks to become the most capped springbok captain ever. I applaud you and wish you every bit of luck you will need to bring this home!

      No8 - 2011-10-06 10:22

      Agree. Thanks John for what you have done for SA Rugby. I am sure you will continue to play an important role even off the field. We salute you.

  • Johnny-BB - 2011-10-06 08:47

    ...poor Bismarck, ...the worlds best hooker, ...on the bench....!!. ....hopefully Sunday will be the last game for grandpa Smit and genius PDV.... ...........Go All Blacks...!!

      Sparkys - 2011-10-06 08:51

      JohnnyBB took the bite out of the Apple!!

      Sundance - 2011-10-06 08:52

      @Johonny BB You really are a prat! Climd back up your tree.

      RaggedTooth - 2011-10-06 08:56

      Johnny-BB the sadomasochist, you just love the abuse. You probably keep your wife knocked up on cheap "ma-slaan-vir-pa" wine to ensure she beats you up every night. You should try Pollsmoor prison, they'll really give you the tough and painful love you so yearn for everyday. Enjoy the onslaught, you deserve it.

      Mark - 2011-10-06 10:45

      Smit is not only an ambassador to South Africa, he is a great player too. He has regained the form he lost over the past season and is definitely the man to lead the Boks to victory. As for the AB's, their biggest opponent (pressure) is soon to prevail over their campaign.

  • Tantrum - 2011-10-06 08:51

    We will see John as the starting hooker for 1 more test - wooohooo. Next year we can have a real springbok team again.

      Johnny-BB - 2011-10-06 08:55

      ...with a real coach....

      Sparkys - 2011-10-06 09:10

      JohnyyBB doesnt fart...nothing escapes him!!

  • marco - 2011-10-06 08:52

    As opposed to the All Black's playing people on the wing that aren't actual wings right?Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui for example.The AB's cannot settle on their 1st team and best 15 either and play people out of position all over the place.Their best wings are arguably Zac Guildford and Corey Jane (who normally plays Fullback for the Hurricanes too) and neither are getting picked regularly.I think if John Smit was a All Black he'd be on their teamsheet aswell so I don't accept the argument that we will lose with Smit on the field.He's a good hooker.Bismark it seems to PDV is best utilize as an impact player instead.Best of luck for the Boks.

  • SA-FAN - 2011-10-06 08:52

    Blah blah blah i am so sick and tired of reading this absolute crap articles. The coach has made up his mind now just accept it and move on.

  • Hanjo - 2011-10-06 08:54

    Obviously...last time I checked, he was the Captain. Sport24 should be ashamed of their anti Smit articles that pop-up all too often. Smit has been very good this World Cup? if anything, Bismarck showed with his performance against Samoa that he is more effective coming from the bench, he simply isn't able to do what he does in 20-30 minutes(when the opposition is starting to tire) if he starts, playing 50-60min. Our explosive bench is the one advantage we have over every other WC playing nation, why would anyone in their right mind even consider giving that up?

  • Bootman - 2011-10-06 08:54

    111 - Not Out................Win or lose. John Smit will go down in history as the greatest Bok captain ever. Win or lose, the end of this WC will signify the end of an era. An era where Springbok greats such as John Smit, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Fourie Dupreez, Bryan Habanna, Danie Rossouw and Schalk Burger graced our playing fields and sweated blood for their country. When the WC is long gone and forgottten, these names will live on in the history of Bok rugby.

      Les - 2011-10-06 10:28

      Finally a bit of appreciation for our selected team! Good onya mate... Go Bokke

  • Dal2000 - 2011-10-06 08:57

    Stop Bashing Smit you bloody plonker! - 2011-10-06 09:12

      his already bashed, old and a has been.......drop him now with the coach

  • Anneleen - 2011-10-06 08:58

    Captain...this article says it all..."his still robust lobby of admirers "...go out there, Captain, and may you have a robust game...go Captain, go Bokke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sheriffff - 2011-10-06 08:58

    Useless bloody plonkers at Sport24, really grow up you retards

      Maori - 2011-10-06 09:02

      Excuse me!

      SA-FAN - 2011-10-06 09:04

      Maori are you working for Sport24 just checking?

      Bellakanoose - 2011-10-06 12:05

      He is... so is Johnny-BB and Sparky and others... so sad!

  • - 2011-10-06 09:08

    @MWOS........Bismarck is by far a better player, John Smit is a has been and will cost us the WORLD CUP........Bismarck my man leave now and make some money Villiers is slowly but surely loosing the plot...........wag ons gaan nog ons gat sien...........

      Hanjo - 2011-10-06 09:23

      ek neem aan die feit dat de Villiers ons undefeated by die Quarters gekry het krap jou seker lelik om, aangesien jy net sooo graag hom wil sien fail? John se goeie vorm in die WC het seker n soortgelyke uitwerking op jou...kry vir jou!

      Met Uysh! - 2011-10-06 09:53

      @Kryvirjou gaan comment eerder op want jy het nie 'n clue waarvan jy praat nie! Gaan soek een op!

      Dros - 2011-10-06 14:45

      Jy is stadig loosing jou head

  • Coconut - 2011-10-06 09:20

    You Go Smitty. Make and stand and more importantly make us all very proud as you have done 110 time in the past. You have been a great Springbok warrior and we are sure that you will make the grade in the final stages of RWC 2011. Go Bokke Go Smitty the whole of South Africa is behind you.

  • marco - 2011-10-06 09:23

    Dean Ryan,SkySports Pundit: "Getting the balance right is very difficult,but we can all sit in armchairs on this side of the globe and pass judgment on the most difficult of jobs:The Head Coach at the rugby World Cup...Quick predictions for the quarter final Dean says..."South Africa to steamroller Australia and to win by five (9/2 with Sky Bet),but the first try to come from the Aussies and the returning Digby Loane could be the opening try scorer". So even Dean Richards reckons we'll beat Australia.Go Bokke!!!!!

  • Theo - 2011-10-06 09:42

    Smit has played his cards he is not only the capt but is also the coach as well as a selector. What we are going top see now is a total implosion of the Bok camp. Players will be very disillusioned, because they are not been selected on performance. Smit has been absolutely useless on the field. How can Smit motivate the team when he can hardly keep up , the only time he gets close to the ball is at the set scrums. All the fans are asking for is play Bismarck first is that unreasonable?

      Met Uysh! - 2011-10-06 09:55

      Oh Theo, maybe you should start watching rugby cause you clearly have no idea!

      Travis - 2011-10-06 11:45

      Theo, this may come as a surprise to you, but not all the fans are asking for that. You look at the responses on the article, and you will see that Smit is not lacking in support. I rate both players, and believe that we gain the most by using Bismark off the bench. You say that we are going to see an implosion of the Bok camp. Oh...and while you are looking into the future with such skill, send me the numbers for the weekend's Lottery too. That would be really impressive!

      David - 2011-10-06 13:59

      Smit's captaincy value outweighs the 2 extra turnovers we get if BdP plays

  • Nick - 2011-10-06 09:44

    John Smit is captain my captain!! You need his leadership, end of story!

  • 106SA - 2011-10-06 09:45

    No Bismark;no Hougard = no semi final.Simple!!!!

  • rheinhardt.peens - 2011-10-06 09:55

    Captain my Captain!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nick van den berg - 2011-10-06 10:03

    Net 2 2 dan sal die beste haker in die land sy geregtelike plek in die springbok span opneem!!!

      The Patriot - 2011-10-06 13:19

      Nick, you need two hookers in a team, both are best or they wouldn't be there. Strategically placing them into the game is the question you should ask. Stop wining and enjoy the battle, you are going to be witness to a great outcome.

  • Dan - 2011-10-06 10:24

    Will be interesting to count and compare the Bismarck/Smit lineout misses. I've seen Smit miss more than a couple in recent times. Smit has a tendancy to get carried away and throw the ball to the backline iso the lineout. Unfortunately for Smit and his coach the stakes are high and also stacked against them. If the Boks win they'll be heros but if they fold on Sunday Smit and Snor will be thrashed. I hope they have the decision right but somehow I think the Aussies are smiling at this selection. SA starting without their four toughest characters and equally brilliant rugby players (Steyn & Bakkies injured, Beast not selected and Bismarck watching from the bench) will prove too much of a deficit come Sunday. To top this off they start with "chunky" (read overweight) Smittie who by the way he is not a comparable scrummager to Bismarck. They re on two different planets with regards to physicality, mobility and presence. For the sake of our campaign I hope Smittie and his band of merry men prove me wrong and come Sunday I'll be rock solid behind the Green Machine. Therefore Go Smittie and become immortal!!

      James121 - 2011-10-06 16:26

      Dan you make some assumptions here which I doubt you can back-up. Ie scrummager (John is better - ask his opposition), physicality (definitely better in the tight exchanges, Bismark in the loose) and presence (John better motivator by far).

  • Joel - 2011-10-06 10:24

    The questioning of John Smit's inclusion was based primarily on the eratic nature of his physical performances for the Sharks towards the end of the Super 15 season. His mental presence as leader on the park with his particular ability to infect the entire team with calmness & passion was never in question. The Bok selectors, however, were obviously more privy to John's physical conditioning & its progress after injury then the general public. His performances as hooker at the world cup have set the matter to rest. John is the man to carry us to the 55th minute with Bismark to punch holes through a tiring opposition.

      odysseus - 2011-10-06 10:53

      agreed... except I would say in the 45th minute... the 55th minute against Wales was nearly too late...

  • Bokmad - 2011-10-06 10:27

    Wake up - the Boks are in NZ, the WC pool stages are over! Smit is the Captain and doing a decent job. PDiv is hardly going to changed his hand mid tournament. Look at what is happening to France, Marc L's erratic and negative approach is destroying what could be a greatr side. PDiv - I commend you for having the courage to stick to your plan in the face of incredible negative pressure. John Smit - Do what you need to do and bring it home boy, most of us are behind you. To the naysayers - GET OVER IT!

  • WIllie Botha - 2011-10-06 10:31

    Time to stand together SA - Go Smitty and Go Bokke!

  • SmitSupporte - 2011-10-06 10:46

    Lumon gets 1st prize for reading the article from beginning to end and paying attention throughout! Yes .... that is what the article says :-) In fact the article says what most of the comments below say ...

  • rosemarie - 2011-10-06 10:59

    John is an embarrassment.

      SmitSupporte - 2011-10-06 11:18

      Sadly Rosemarie ... I'm afraid it's you who's the embarrassment

      Lance - 2011-10-07 16:28

      Yes and any team that knows they have to face Bismarck in the second half when their legs and bodies have given in suffers emotional scarring for life...! Trust the selectors...

  • Grizzly - 2011-10-06 10:59

    well written article...

  • Dragonpig - 2011-10-06 11:02

    We say our play revolves around set pieces. Beast has been left out for Steenkamp because they want the stronger scrumerger. John Smit is better at line outs and in the scums than Bismarck. Bismarck is a great ball carrier and great at the breakdown. Lets not forget Schalk Burger and Heinrich Brussouw are the players meant to handle the breakdowns. Yes it's great to have Bismarck on the field but for the bulk of the game we need the solid role Smit plays. I'm a huge Bismarck fan but it's pointless having him on if our plan is to dominate at the set piece. He can come off the bench and make a HUGE impact after Smit has done all the donkey work

      Bokmad - 2011-10-06 16:56

      I agree completely, imagine how psychologically draining it must be for the opposition to see Bis come on at 50 or 60, when they are tired and thier 2nd best players are coming on.

  • Worldchamp - 2011-10-06 11:33

    John Smit for president. Go on John lead the bokke to another victory!!

  • steveroodt - 2011-10-06 11:36

    John make this a good one The Boks need your leadership qualitys now more than ever .looking forward to the game.

  • kilo39 - 2011-10-06 12:31

    was going to comment until I re-read the title...I thought it said 'immorality' !!

  • draaft - 2011-10-06 12:54

    Wow John grown FAT since this photo was taken, I have never been a John Smit fan, and I will never be, I have been to too many live tests I know how lazy he is on a park, how he walks everywhere, gets trapped in backline, because he is not fit enough to reach the breakdown point, how he could lose lineouts with 2-3 of the best jumpers in the world on his team, how our scrums crumble when he moves to prop. How when other hookers (even Shimange) came on and Smit didn't move to prop how our scrums suddenly seem so much more potent.. Hard luck for Gary Botha, and Bismarck du Plessis who have been sidelined for this man. I am sorry but there is way too much evidence against John than there is for him, the selector's wade so far into the lake of blood with him, that they just kept going, so sad. He will forever be the biggest farce in world rugby history... For those of his fans that rely on his "leadership abilities" why has no ref ever listened to his pleas, but they seem/seemed to respect the opinions of richie mccaw, george gregan, martin lawrence, brian odriscoll? Are all those refs "racist" when the only common denominator is Smit?

      Bootman - 2011-10-06 13:18

      draaft you know what the problem is? You need to stop listening to your dad and his buddies talk rugby and then repeat what they said on a public forum. Firstly, that picture of John Smit was taken at this WC, so all the "fat" jibes seem a bit silly. Secondly you say "hard luck Gary Botha"!!?? Are you serious?? He's not even the fifth best hooker in the country, and thirdly, to prove you dont know what you're talking about......when did Martin Lawrence start playing rugby? Was it before or after Bad Boys 2

      Kaos - 2011-10-06 13:22

      "Wow John grown FAT since this photo was taken"...this photo was taken at the current world cup, so unless he has put on weight in the past few days your observation is seriously flawed just like the rest of your comment

      The Patriot - 2011-10-06 13:24

      Is that draaft of daaft?

      Theo - 2011-10-06 14:05

      Draaft, couldn't agree more with your comments cant wait for the game , Smit is going to have that zombie look on on face, when kangaroos run him ragged it , all very sad to see this leader risk all for the sake of just one more world cup and at the expense of another player that being Bismarck.

      Dan - 2011-10-06 19:33

      Yes this photo was taken at this WC and photoshopped to look like this. Compare this photo to that fat guy with the number 2 on his jersey staggering around the field, missing tackles and looking generally out of sorts and who incidentally is also playing for the Boks at this WC.

  • colin.crowther2 - 2011-10-06 13:20

    John - has a hell of a lof of responsibility going into this game.I don't believe this is the right tactic as I would have prefered Schalk Britz as backup to Bismark.The only thing that can be beneficial is if John can soak up time and pressure in the tight for the first 40 min preventing Australia from getting into the game and then allowing Bismark a solid and impactful platform for the rest of the game.If the Boks go down 10 points early on in the game , then John will have to come off.Wales put us under tremendous pressure when John was on the Park as his mobility in the tight and loose was exposed.If we put pressure on the Aussies in the Scrums then we should be Ok.Prove us wrong John!!! Thanks

  • Byron - 2011-10-06 14:39

    John Smit IS the greatest springbok captain of all time Period!!!!!! This game can only amke him better not worse

  • Brainbow - 2011-10-06 14:45

    John is our leader.

  • Noel - 2011-10-07 08:09

    smit you beauty one of the best captains in world rugby silence your critics your fans know you still have the hunger to become the best.

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