Juan to play for SA?

2013-11-02 00:00

BLOEMFONTEIN — Former Springbok and Cheetah flank Juan Smith says the inclusion of his Toulon team-mate Bakkies Botha in the Bok team gives him a spark of hope to play for South Africa again.

The 32-year-old Smith is, however, realistic about his chances of increasing his 69 Test appearances in a Springbok jersey after his Achilles tendon injury.

“Look, there is currently an excellent group of loose forwards such as Duane [Vermeulen] and Willem [Alberts] in the Bok group,” says Smith.

“It will always be a major privilege to play for the Boks. But I am not going to pre-empt things. My attention currently is focused on my obligations to Toulon and I have no control about the future.

“I really enjoy every moment here and try to deliver my best to Toulon. That is my mission.”

Since Smith injured his Achilles tendon in a Super Rugby match in 2011 against the Bulls, Siya Kolisi and Arno Botha emerged as top number seven flanks. Hard-working Cheetah Lappies Labuschagne is also regarded as unlucky not to get a Bok chance.

Smith, however, needs more match practice to improve his sharpness after the tendon injury, but he has shown some glimpses of his former greatness as one of the world’s best loose forwards during appearances for his French team.

He still plays with the same aggression, and it does not appear as if he has sacrificed any speed after his injury. It seems he still possesses the hunger to play at the highest level.

With old men such as Botha, Fourie du Preez and Jaque Fourie back in the fold, it would come as no surprise if Bok coach Heyneke Meyer — with his eye on the 2015 World Cup — should look at Smith’s return with great interest.

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