He recently added a Currie Cup winners medal to the one he won for leading the Springboks to the World Cup title last year, and it appears there is no stopping John Smit when it comes to achievements.
Gavin Rich writes for SuperRugby that Smit’s latest milestone comes this Saturday, when he leads the Springboks against Scotland at Murrayfield here in Edinburgh. It will be the 80th time that Smit has pulled on the Bok jersey in a test match, and that equals the record for a Bok test forward set by Os du Randt.
“It is a very humbling achievement for me to be equalling a record set by Os, who I see as a real legend of the South African game,” said Smit on Tuesday.
“No matter what happens from now, I think Os will always be the legend of South African rugby. He is such a legend of South African rugby that I am very humbled to be sharing a record that he has set.”
Of course, Du Randt won two World Cups with the Boks, something that Smit is unlikely to do as he is not expected to continue his international career much beyond the British Lions tour next year. Or might he change his mind now that he has switched to tighthead prop, or have his mind changed for him?
There are some critics and forward experts who believe that Smit’s switch of position might extend his career in that the demands are not so great at prop, but while it may be true that a tighthead carries less responsibility outside of the set scrums than a hooker does, Smit does not sound that convinced that life as a prop is easier.
In fact, on the contrary, for while Smit has time and again stressed that he is happy to make the change for the team and is excited about the challenge, he doesn’t create the impression when asked about it that he is exactly treating it as a young child would a new toy that he has just unwrapped on Christmas Day.
On Tuesday, when it was the turn of the Scottish media to quiz him on the change of position, Smit left little doubt that at the moment it is not the most comfortable thing he has ever done.
“It is definitely more tiring to play at tighthead and I felt that it was much more of an effort to get up from the scrum to get around the field (than it has been when I have played hooker),” said Smit.
The Bok skipper said he had yet to study the Scotland scrumming effort against the All Blacks last week, but he realises he will be in for another tough examination. With Smit’s eyes firmly on the Lions tour, his efforts in these matches are going to be instructional, as Gethin Jenkins, who he faced last week in Cardiff, and England’s Andy Sheridan are likely to be the Lions looseheads.
“It is all about getting used to playing the position. I would not say at the moment that it is a permanent switch or that it will be where I will end my career. We will see what happens. At the moment it serves the purpose of giving Bismarck du Plessis a chance to continue after his great international performances in the southern hemisphere season and to cover an area where we are thin following the decision not to choose overseas based players.”Tweet