Smit looks forward to Heineken Cup glory

2012-04-06 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — The 2012 Super Rugby tournament has kicked-off without John Smit — and South Africa’s 2007 World Cup winning captain and hooker has no regrets about not being a part of it any more.

Smit has swopped the Sharks for the Saracens and, instead of another Super 15 campaign, the man who led his country a record 83 times, including the Test series win over the 2009 British & Irish Lions, is looking forward to a Heineken Cup quarter-final showdown with big-spending French club ASM Clermont Auvergne at Vicarage Road, London, on Sunday.

“Am I missing the Super 15 — not at all,” said Smit, who won a national record 111th cap in the World Cup quarter-final against Australia in Wellington last October.

“I am loving it here with Saracens. I have been made so welcome, and thankfully I have enjoyed my Heineken Cup matches with them so much more than my tournament debut for Clermont.

“It was against Munster in Limerick and it was horrible — we took virtually a B team and you can only say that on that occasion we had a really bad day in the office.”

That was one of three Heineken Cup appearances he made for Clermont in the 2007/08 campaign before returning to South Africa while this season he has appeared in five of Saracens’ Pool matches on the way to the last eight. And next up is his old club for a prestigious semi-final spot when they clash in the Heineken Cup quarter-final.

“Clermont have phenomenal players and have great financial backing, they invariably use their money well and get just the right players who suit the club,” he said.

“It is impossible to say who are their most dangerous players, they have so many of them, from captain Aurelien Rougerie, who is such a pillar of strength, to the likes of wing Julien Malzieu, back-rower Julien Bonnaire to No 10 Brock James, who manages the game so well for them.

“What is so special about Clermont is the magnificent relationship between players and supporters, who pack the ground every weekend of a home match and are so passionate about the side being successful.

“From a player’s point of view that passion is a huge incentive to make every effort to help the team succeed and while the playing staff may have changed somewhat since I was there, I know that the collective will to win will be just as strong with this squad as it was with the players four years ago.”

Clermont have won their last 11 home Heineken Cup matches since losing to Sale Sharks in the opening Pool match in 2008, which was just one of five defeats in 27 home tournament matches.

“It is a fair time since they were last beaten at home so it is great to have them coming to London for this massive match,” said Smit.

“And having won the Top 14 [French Championship] in 2010 will only make them all the more dangerous, they had such a long wait for that honour that was really just about all they targeted in those seasons. I was in the team beaten 26-20 by Toulouse in the 2008 French final so I guess I left them just a bit early to be part of the squad that made club history.

“But now having got that first title with the 19-6 victory over Perpignan in 2010 they have widened their ambitions and it is not just the Top 14 any more — they want to win every tournament in which they play.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.