Stephen Nell, Die Burger
Cape Town – Springbok captain John Smit is ready to turn his back on French club rugby and may return to South Africa as soon as Monday
According to informed sources, the Clermont club has been offered the equivalent of three months of Smit’s salary to release the man who led South Africa to victory in last year’s World Cup tournament.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and Andy Marinos, manager of SA Rugby’s national teams, are in the northern hemisphere to meet representatives of clubs that have SA players on their books.
De Villiers said at a breakfast function in Paarl last month he intended luring certain players back to South Africa.
Describing Smith as a gifted leader, De Villiers said some sponsors were interested in helping to bring back certain South Africans who were playing club rugby abroad.
Neither De Villiers not Marinos could be contacted on Wednesday.
It seems Smit wants to return to captain the Springbok despite earlier rumours that his international career may have ended when former coach Jake White stepped down.
However, South Africa’s World Cup triumph put the captain in a strong position.
Clermont’s administrators are said to be furious about the developments but they may accept an offer, because Smit has a knee injury.
A French agent, Bruno Xamma, says SA Rugby will have to pay “big money” to have Smit released from his contract at Clermont.
Earns a big salary
“John has been contracted until June 2009,” Xamma said on Wednesday. “Clermont would want compensation for two years. John earns a big salary in France and I don’t think SA Rugby will be able to afford it.”
Sharks coach Dick Muir was unable to confirm that Smit may be on his way back. “There are rumours but nothing has been confirmed,” Muir said.
If Smit does return soon, Muir would like him to be available for the Sharks in the Super 14 competition.
“I don’t think he’ll play for any other team. But his injury may keep him out of action for the duration of the Super 14 anyway.”
Muir confirmed that he had seen Smit when the Springbok captain was in South Africa recently. However, there were no official negotiations.
If Smit is going to be out of rugby for a considerable time, it would make sense for Clermont to accept compensation to release him.
It has also been said that Smit is unhappy at Clermont.
Meanwhile, progress is being made to appoint assistant coaches for De Villiers.
Jannie Ferreira, chairperson of the committee chosen to select the coaches, said on Wednesday they had looked at some applications.
Names were also proposed of coaches who would be invited to apply. “We should be able to draw up a shortlist on Friday,” Ferreira said.
Former assistant Springbok coach Gert Smal and former Western Province coach Dawie Snyman would lend technical expertise to the committee, Ferreira said.
Pieter Jordaan reports from Bloemfontein that Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has decided not to apply for a position as assistant coach of the national team.
Drotské will continue as Cheetahs coach instead.Tweet