John Smit making a name for himself at Saracens

2011-11-15 00:00

JOHN Smit, playing his rugby under the radar in London, is enjoying life.

The former Sharks and Springbok captain made his Saracens debut at the weekend and scored the final try in the London club’s 42-17 Heineken Cup win over Treviso at Vicarage Road.

It was a comfortable afternoon for the South Africa-laden Saracens outfit after they had led 16-3 at the break, and Smit sealed the win with the fifth try late in the game after replacing fellow-South African hooker Schalk Brits.

“It’s a very good feeling on my debut. But most important for the guys was getting the bonus point because ours is a tough group.

“I’ve been training hard for the past couple of weeks, but you don’t really feel a part of it till you’ve done your bit on the field, so it’s nice to finally play some rugby,” Smit said.

This was Saracens’ only Heineken game at Vicarage Road as the ambitious London club will play their other two home games at Newlands in Cape Town and Wembley Stadium.

Smit, with the whirl of the Rugby World Cup and all the controversy behind him, is delighted to be playing a largely anonymous role at Saracens.

“I took my family down the high street in St Albans the other day for some lunch,” a smiling Smit told the Daily Mail, “and it’s the first time in years I wasn’t stopped in the street or interrupted during a meal.”

“It’s an honour being Springbok captain, but also a burden because you have to be that figurehead 24/7,” he added.

Smit has a dual role at Saracens, playing the role of mentor and leader off the field and hooker and prop on it, for the next 18 months.

“I would be ashamed if anyone accuses me of just coming over here to earn some money.

“It undermines the last 14 years of what I’ve achieved.

“I hope to play for another three years, and I’d love to have a proper crack at the Heineken Cup. It’s a new challenge.”

Two South Africans in the Saracens side, flank Justin Melck and scrumhalf Neil de Kock, were injured and left the field during the weekend win.

Other South Africans who featured for Saracens were former Sharks centre Brad Barritt, number eight Ernst Joubert and prop Deon Carstens.

Former Sharks lock and captain Johann Muller, with Bulls loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg alongside him, played a key role in Ulster’s 16-11 win over Clermont. Muller reportedly made the most tackles (12) in the match and was dominant in the lineouts.

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