Bloem’s No 1 BOY

By admin
11 June 2010

‘‘I’m a Bloemfontein boy down to my bones; I’m probably going to die here in Bloem,’’ Cheetahs and Springbok star Juan Smith tells us matter-of-factly.

He’s one of the rugby world’s best flanks and could probably walk into any team of his choice. But despite offers from other unions to double his salary Juan has re-signed with the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs.

It’s three months since his father, Giel, died of Rift Valley fever. Juan missed several Super 14 matches to be with his ill dad. Then doctors said Giel was improving and Juan rejoined his team in Canberra to play the Brumbies.

But before the match he was told his dad had died and he left the team again – and through a losing streak the Cheetahs realised how much they missed their captain.

Coach Rassie Erasmus unexpectedly handed Juan the captain’s armband in 2006 and he led the team to two victorious Currie Cup finals.

‘‘I’m glad I grabbed the chance,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s been good for my rugby. It’s been good for me as a person. It’s taught me responsibility and how to deal with pressure.

He’s a captain who commands respect. ‘‘I’m not the sort of captain who wants to give a player a kick up the backside. I lead by example; I want to inspire people by my actions. If I’m prepared to make a tackle or run all day or dig deep within myself to lift my game I expect my team to do the same. I think that inspires players more than anything I could say.’’

Bok coach Peter de Villiers has given him time to mourn his father and he won’t play for the Boks before August. ‘‘My dad lived for rugby but he enjoyed the game more when I was playing,’’ he says. ‘‘I want to use the best of my talent. That’s the best way I can think of to honour him and heal myself.’’

Read the full article in the YOU of 17 June 2010

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