Jake White described John Smit as a “very special” captain and new Springbok coach Peter de Villiers wasted no time in re-appointing him as national team leader. On Monday Smit showed exactly why he is so highly rated.
Stepping straight off the plane from France and onto the training field in Stellenbosch, Smit made an immediate impact in his first training session under De Villiers.
Rugby 365 reports that the Bok captain, Smit, joined the Springbok training session within hours after stepping off the plane from France, where he had been playing for Top 14 club Clermont.
While he may return for another brief stint after the two-Test series against Wales next month, the arrival of Smit was greeted with great relief by De Villiers.
“We could not do our planning fully without him,” De Villiers explained.
“What he brought into the practice is exactly what we needed. Everybody is looking at him to take the lead and he did just that.”
The World Cup-winning captain, Smit, spoke of the privilege of once again leading his country into battle.
“It’s always been a privilege and an honour to be able to carry on and I’m extremely lucky,” the Bok captain said, adding: “I have to keep on working to make sure it lasts a long time.”
Smit was also full of praise for De Villiers: “With Peter [de Villiers] there is excitement and passion and I think everything will fall into place, but we still have as lot of work to do.”
There has been much speculation about where Smit will be continuing his rugby after the Springbok management arranged for him to return to the country in the interests of South African rugby.
His old former team, the Sharks, have not sounded too enthusiastic and Western Province have said he’s been priced out of the market.
The other three foreign-based members of the training squad, Percy Montgomery, Victor Matfield and Butch James have all been granted permission by De Villiers to arrive at the Somerset West camp as late as Wednesday.
New Springbok backline coach Dick Muir is also likely to arrive on Wednesday, after his child had an accident at home.
The Springbok management decided to close Monday afternoon’s session to the spectators and the media.
Only the forwards worked out and they concentrated on line-out skills.
The backs had a theory session at the team hotel.
In the absence of Muir, De Villiers has been working with the backs.Tweet