Jake White, the former Springbok World Cup Winning coach, has made it clear that he thinks John Smit should retire. The Springboks are a mere nine months away from defending their title in New Zealand.
John Smit has come under increased pressure over the last few months to call it a day on a career that has spanned 10 years, after his debut in 2000 against Canada and has since played another 101 games for his country.
The biggest factor behind the calls for retirement is his Sharks teammate Bismarck du Plessis, who is the form hooker in South Africa and was one of the form players on the Boks’ End of year tour.
Peter de Villiers will have a very similar situation 12 years ago to refer to before making any decisions. In 1999, months before defending the World Cup, a certain Nick Mallett axed Gary Teichmann for a new exciting player, and Mallett has since said it was the biggest mistake of his life. Will de Villiers make the same mistake?
There are a few problems that arise should John Smit decide to retire. The leadership will almost certainly go to Victor Matfield, which is by no means a bad thing, but Smit is the better leader, and the squad as a whole will lose a massive amount of experience. The impact of losing your captain months before a World Cup is not what the Boks need going into their defence.
So how do the coaches approach this situation? The first problem is the fact that both Smit and du Plessis play for the same Super Rugby franchise, meaning they are competing for the same position. Du Plessis should be the starting hooker for the Sharks, but will he be on rotation to make way for Smit? Or will the captain be forced to play in a different position, something which is unfair on both the player and the squad.
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