Smit a happy hooker or prop

2010-01-27 00:00

WHILE the South African rugby public is split over whether John Smit is an unhappy prop or a happy hooker, the Springbok captain frankly could not give a damn.

Smit has played most of his rugby at hooker, but was switched to tighthead prop for both the Sharks and the Boks last year, with mixed results, to accommodate the blossoming Bismarck du Plessis in the middle of the scrum.

Late last year, on the Springbok tour of Europe, he was moved back to hooker and both he and the Bok scrum looked more comfortable.

And so the debate has lumbered on. Sharks coach John Plumtree told The Witness last month that he will manage Smit carefully, using his captain at three (tighthead prop), two (hooker) — and off the bench when he needed a break.

Smit and Du Plessis played off the bench against the Force in Cape Town last night, with Craig Burden starting at hooker and Jannie du Plessis on the tighthead.

Smit, caught in the middle, says he is happy to play wherever he is needed by the team, coach and selectors.

“I’m still open to playing both and I am just happy to be here still playing,” Smit told News 24.

“Fortunately, at the Sharks, we have both Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, who are both excellent at hooker and tighthead. So I won’t be carrying too heavy a load,” said Smit.

He said that although he has been named the Sharks captain, he is expecting to be rested for a number of games during the Super 14, with either Stefan Terblanche or Johann Muller taking over.

The Bok captain said he felt refreshed and re-energised after a five-week break since the tour of Europe.

The 32-year-old Smit obviously has his sights set on leading the Springboks in the defence of their World Cup title in New Zealand next year, but he will not predict how long he will continue playing.

“It is up to the various coaches. As long as they feel I can make a contribution and add value, I will keep playing,” said Smit.

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