Springbok captain John Smit says there will be no holding back when the Sharks and Blue Bulls meet in the Currie Cup Final in Durban on Saturday, despite the fact that a few days later they will regroup to head of on the year-end tour as the national team.
Rugby 365 reports there will be 20-odd Springboks in the Final at the Absa Stadium – of which as many as 16 could feature in the team for the year-end tour, scheduled to be announced after Saturday’s game.
Not surprising then this is being billed as one of the biggest finals ever, a fact acknowledged by Smit.
“It’s a fairytale, dream Final, a colossal event and this is as intense as any we have ever had,” Smit said.
“We’ll go hammer and tongs against each other and then two weeks later we’ll be singing the national anthem with each other on the end of year Springbok tour!”
Despite the fact that they are Bok teammates, Smit feels there will be no holding back.
“This one is going to be as big as any [Final],” the Bok captain said.
“If you look at the players that make up the two teams, this is going to be an absolute cracker.
“I’m sure both teams are geared up for the weekend and preparations will be paramount to what happens on Saturday.”
Smit, who returned to the Sharks this year after a sting with French club Clermont Auvergne after last year’s World Cup, is not particularly concerned that he is currently behind Bok teammate Bismarck du Plessis in the Sharks’ pecking order at hooker.
Smit has started only once and played off the bench, with Du Plessis starting, in the latter stages of the competition.
The groin injury he suffered in the opening round of the Tri-Nations, also meant he made a belated return to Currie Cup action – allowing Du Plessis to cement a starting spot at the Sharks.
The roles will be reversed once they get back to the international stage, but for now Smit is happy to play second fiddle on the domestic scene.
“That No.2 jersey befits Bismarck [du Plessis] at the moment,” Smit said.
“He has been in the Sharks squad a lot longer than I have been this year and I’ve only just come back … my fourth or fifth week.
“Hopefully I can play a different role to the one I played in the Super 14 Final last year and be on for the last 20 rather than the first 60.”
Having enjoyed a measure of both success and failure in finals – most notably losing in the Super 14 Final last year and then winning in the World Cup – he is ideally-placed to provide the answer to the million-dollar questions: ‘What does it take to achieve success? What is the secret to winning finals?’
“I’ve been in a number of different finals, sometimes you do the same things without the same outcome, it depends less on individuals and more on the environment that is functioning within the team,” he explained.
“Those finals that have gone well for me, when we won, I found that it was already accepted as a fait accompli beforehand, we were just working towards finishing off for the team and that’s been the key, finishing a tournament.
“Simply finishing at the top of standings doesn’t do the business. It might give you confidence but not the result. If we have got that self-belief or not will only be evident after the Final.”
Having spent a year away from the team – his last game being the Super 14 Final in 2007 – John returned to the Sharks midway through the Absa Currie Cup and has only positive things to say about the evolution of the squad.
“Having come into the team late and as a bit of an outsider, it’s been interesting to see the development. I left the team in pretty good shape last year, but came back wondering what I would experience. However, the environment has improved, the management has done great work and it’s paying dividends.
“The team dynamic has improved and this is a close-knit group, so I have found it really easy to come in. Whether I have to play off the bench or start, captain the side or not, it’s been easy, there are no egotistical elements.”Tweet