Smit coming home

2008-07-01 00:00

DURBAN — After protracted and lengthy negotiations, the Sharks are pleased to announce that John Smit has signed a contract for 2008 and 2009.

The parties involved in these negotiations included top Sharks’ hooker Bismarck du Plessis and team coach John Plumtree, both of whom said they have the greatest respect for Smit and that it was necessary for open and frank discussion.

Sharks (Pty) Ltd CEO Brian van Zyl said, “It is therefore pleasing to be able to finalise this matter and we believe that is certainly good news for all rugby supporters in Kwa-Zulu Natal and South Africa.”

Plumtree admitted that this was great news for the Sharks.

“What can I say? He’s a fantastic player, an outstanding leader and he’s consistently been proven at top level. He’s also a mate, which is the most important thing. Getting him back is great for the region and province.”

Obviously, the return of the former Sharks and currently Springbok hooker back to Durban has implications for Du Plessis, who spent a few years under the wing of Smit and this year emerged to show that he is one of the best hookers in the country.

“We’ve worked through a process with Bismarck, which has been ongoing for the past five to six weeks, I’ve basically promised him game time, he’ll get plenty. For his continued development — he’s potentially one of the best hookers in world and will be a great Bok — it is important for him to continue to play for the Sharks.

“There will be a fair amount of rotation, both understand that and it will be good for both of them,” said Plumtree.

Plumtree also said that the Springbok coaches have no problem with the fact that the Sharks now have the top two hookers in the country playing for them again. “As long as both get their fair share of game time with the Sharks, it doesn’t affect their chances of game time with the Boks.

“It’s good for the squad, the team and us to have a guy like him here,” Plumtree added.

“Having both he and Bissy here makes us really strong up front. John is probably the best captain in the rugby world and Bismarck has some outstanding leadership qualities — which will continue to grow playing alongside John.”

What this means for young Craig Burden is the opportunity, like Du Plessis, to learn at the foot of a player who is Springbok captain. “Craig’s development at hooker is ongoing,” said Plumtree.

“Throwing him into a situation to play top class rugby moving from wing to hooker is not easy and he will need protracted periods of play, he needs a campaign to get his teeth in. In saying that, we need three hookers.”

Smit will be available to the Sharks at the conclusion of the Vodacom Tri Nations, along with the rest of the Springboks, giving their Absa Currie Cup campaign a boost at the end of August.

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