It’s been a bit of a bittersweet week for Bok captain John Smit.
The talk of the town, it seems, has centred around the record-breaking Bok hooker’s thus-far successful attempts to get back into the shape of his life ahead of the Super Rugby season. After somewhat of a disappointing year, from a personal point of view in 2010, Smit (who missed the last part of last year due to a neck injury) has let it be known that he’s fitter than ever and has shed the excess pounds that he packed on a year ago at the Bok management’s behest. The buzz in Durban is very positive, with various sources confirming that the captain is fit as a fiddle and looking lean and mean ahead of the year in which he is determined to be the first captain in history to successfully defend the World Cup.
There was the usual sniping from the Keo’s of the world, of course, with all of the writers employed by that particular website using their twitter accounts to denigrate the captain and suggest that he was past it. While Smit is far too iconic a figure to pay any attention to criticism from such lowly quarters, the fact that his long-time mentor – and once friend – Jake White saw fit to weigh in with his own set of barbs during the week must surely have hit home somewhat harder. John’s got broad shoulders though and has coped with a fair bit of criticism over a professional career spanning more than a decade.
His coach at the Sharks, John Plumtree, confirmed this weekend that Smit will indeed be the man to captain the Sharks in this year’s Super Rugby competition, thus ending speculation that Currie Cup winning skipper Stefan Terblanche might continue in the role with Smit limited to a more advisory capacity. The no-nonsense Kiwi also took a fair few shots at White’s statements in a frank interview with Mike Greenaway, which you can read in the Sunday Tribune, or on-line here.
The latest setback, in a week of ups and downs, is the breaking news that Smit has very recently suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain. The injury, which should keep him out of action for a week or two, will see him miss out on the upcoming training camp in Phokeng, but hopefully fit enough to play a part in the Sharks’ second Neo Africa Tri-Series warm-up match, against the Stormers in early February.
Sabelo Nhlapo has been called up from the Vodacom Cup training squad to take Smit’s place on the camp. The team flies to Johannesburg from Durban this afternoon, from where they will travel by bus to the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus, where their week-long training camp will take place.Tweet