Jake White says he’s told John Smit he should quit rugby now

2011-01-11 00:00

JAKE White, South Africa’s World Cup winning coach, has advised Springbok captain John Smit to quit the game.

White was in charge of the Springboks, and Smit was his captain, at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France when South Africa took the title for the second time.

The 32-year-old Smit, who underwent neck surgery late last season and missed the Springbok tour of the UK in November, is reportedly in excellent shape and determined to lead the Springboks to the World Cup in New Zealand in September.

He is, of course, under fierce pressure from his abrasive Sharks’ team-mate Bismarck du Plessis, but the South African captain could be used at both loosehead prop and hooker during the lengthy Super 15 and international season.

White and Smit are close friends and the former Bok coach has upset his old captain by suggesting he should retire.

“It’s very difficult because I’m really close to him,” White told the SA Rugby.com website. “I told him to retire and he’s very cross with me because I tell people that he should retire, and he would be remembered for a lot more than if he goes to the World Cup.”

But White, curiously, concedes he would hold a different view if he was still coaching the Springboks.

“If I were the coach, I would be begging him to come with [to the World Cup], so I’ve explained it to him. I said listen, if I was the coach I would be begging you to play but now I’m begging you to stop.”

White, never one to hide his light under a bushel, also confirmed that he would be available to take over from Peter de Villiers if the current Springbok coach was replaced before the World Cup.

White added that De Villiers’s challenge is when to rest his senior Springboks ahead of the World Cup.

“Peter will have to make a decision on how to structure it because there’s no way that these players can play Super 15 and Tri-Nations and still win the World Cup. It doesn’t matter how good they are, it’s just physically impossible to play all that rugby and still win the World Cup.

“What he might have to do is play the key men away and play the juniors in the home leg,” said White.

White said the Tri-Nations opener between the Boks and the Wallabies in Sydney on July 23 would be crucial in the World Cup build-up.

“Watch the Australian game in Sydney and you’ll see whether or not we’re good enough, because then there will be no excuse. They would’ve had their time to prepare and we would’ve had our time to prepare.”

White remains convinced that the team with the best defensive record will win the World Cup and that the Boks need to concentrate on that area of their game.

Meanwhile, it is reported from London that White will apply for the newly-created position of performance director at the Rugby Football Union. The England coach (Martin Johnson) will report to the new director.

The RFU’s new CEO John Steele has conducted a wide-ranging review of the English game and recommended the creation of this new position, which would have control over all England teams.

Eddie Jones and White are reportedly the early front-runners for the position, but Nick Mallett, another former Springbok coach and now in charge of Italy, and the 2009 British Lions head coach Ian McGeechan have also been linked to the post.

White told News24 that he would certainly be interested in the post.

“I haven’t been approached by anybody (as yet), but would I consider it? Well of course I would. It’s a fantastic job,” he said.

White said he and former Bok assistant coach Jones have spoken about the role. “I’d really love a role like that, to impart the knowledge that I’ve picked up from winning with the seniors and juniors and being involved in developing the game in South Africa for the last 25 to 30 years

“I’ve always made it clear that England is the one country that I feel is very similar to the South African model,” said White.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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.


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.