John Smit (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Former national team captain John Smit does not believe recent criticism of slow transformation in the Springbok team will have a negative impact on the team's preparations for the Rugby World Cup.
READ: Boks have blueprint to beat All Blacks - Smit
A media storm erupted earlier this month following South Africa’s shock 37-25 Rugby Championship loss to Argentina in Durban.
Trade union Cosatu claimed five black players had approached them voicing concerns that they were not satisfied that enough was being done to transform the national team.
Former coach Peter de Villiers also hit out at current incumbent Heyneke Meyer, saying he had “underestimated the intelligence of black people with dishonest selections”.
The Boks regrouped and gained revenge on the Pumas, winning 26-12 in Buenos Aires the following weekend.
Smit on Thursday said he does not think the unsettling reports will have a negative influence on Meyer and his team at the World Cup in England and Wales.
“That’s just the usual antics,” Smit told journalists after a rugby function at Cape Town’s Portside building on Thursday.
“We’re pretty good in South Africa at creating stories before big events. It’s part and parcel of any major tournament that we’ve had in the last decade so I don’t see how it could distract us this time.”
The current Sharks CEO also feels the whole transformation issue has been misunderstood by some who see it exclusively in terms of race.
"I think sometimes it is misinterpreted, transformation, we look at it as forcing people into situations that they shouldn't be in.
"I think transformation is about saying that rugby is a developing game in this country because of the minority that play it.
“If we can transform the entire South Africa to understand and love the game, not only just play it, but take the game all over the place.
“We’ve got access to over 50 million people. To have access to everyone rather than just be picking from the odd million people who are playing the game.”
Transformation is essential for the continued growth of the game, Smit insisted.
"For me I think we should all be selfishly promoting transformation, so it’s not just transformation of only people who are not white to play the game, but the whole of South Africa to want to play rugby first.
“I believe in rugby and what it stands for and what it teaches people. And when anyone of any colour sees a Springbok team, or any team run out, (I want them) to feel some kind of pride.”
The Boks start their World Cup campaign against Japan in Brighton on September 19. Their other Pool B opponents are Samoa, Scotland and the USA.