Juan Smith and Peter de Villiers know exactly where they stand with one another and this is more important to the Springbok flank than what the media think about his form.
Jóhann Thormählen reports for sport24.com that despite criticism about his performance, Smith and his coach are satisfied with his game going into Saturday’s tough meeting with arguably the best loose forwards in world rugby.
Smith said he doesn’t necessarily have to do anything drastic in the Boks’ first match of the Tri-Nations against the All Blacks at Vodacom Park because he has been improving lately.
“If you always compare yourself to what the media is saying then you won’t play rugby for long. They all have their own opinion. What really matters, is how I feel about my game.
“And I’m really satisfied with how it has been going in the last three Tests against the British and Irish Lions. I’ve come off a Super 14 series that has been difficult for the Cheetahs. But I’m happy with my own standard of play.”
He said the Springbok coach was also satisfied with how he was progressing.
“Every coach tells you what he expects of you – and that is exactly what Peter has done with me. He is happy with my game at the moment. A coach tells every player what he expects of him. In the same way everyone know what he wants from them.”
The No 7 flank, his Cheetah team-mate Heinrich Brüssow and the Blue Bulls giant Pierre Spies will face Richie McCaw (All Black captain and flank) and his loose forwards.
Smith was regarded by many as the best blindside flank in world rugby after the Boks won the World Cup in 2007, but has since then been criticised for not maintaining that standard of play.
McCaw and Rodney So’oialo (eight man), who are both back in the Tri-Nations after injuries, along with Jerome Kaino (flank) will try to force the Boks into submission.
Smith said McCaw definitely makes a big difference: “If he is back, you play against an All Blacks team that wants to play – one that fires on all cylinders.”
Smith is looking forward to the match, especially because it will be a very physical contest. It is also very special to him to run out in the green-and-gold in front of his provincial home crowd.
“It is a privilege to play in front of your home crowd and these days we don’t play here often. To play in front of your own province’s people, is very nice. And there is no better Test than against the All Blacks.”Tweet