A few years back, sectors of the South African media and public were calling for John Smit to be axed as Springbok captain. Jake White stuck with him though, and Smit has had the last laugh, with World Cup, British & Irish Lions, and Tri Nations victories under his belt.
Moving from hooker to prop in recent times, Smit has had his critics over his perceived weakness in the scrums. He silenced them on Saturday as he held his own against the powerful Tony Woodcock.
“You always get a massive boost when you blast over the ball after the opposition has opted for a scrum, and that was a turning point,”‘ Smit said in his post-match reaction.
Smit was courageous on Saturday. His face was a mess with blood flowing all match. He took a few massive knocks, one from a head collision with his teammate Schalk Burger, and then he got smashed by Isaac Ross.
He soldiered on though, and put in this crunching hit on All Black enforcer Brad Thorn, who famously dumped him in last years test in Wellington. That tackle caused the injury that meant Smit wasnt able to celebrate their Dunedin win last year.
The obvious questions now arise about whether Smit will be around to lead his country to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, to defend the trophy they won in 2007.
“I get asked the question a lot these days and it depends on how I’m playing, whether I’m good enough to make the team. But I have a two-year contract with the Sharks and the next World Cup is not that far away,” Smit said.
In his 90th Test, Smit finally achieved one of his own person goals to beat New Zealand in New Zealand, a feat which eluded him last year but can now be added to his impressive resume.
“I think it is a special day for him and I am just glad we have done it for him. He is such a great leader, such an inspirational leader that it is fantastic to have done it with him in the team,” centre Jean De Villiers said of his captain.
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