James Small was no rebel - former coach

James Small (Gallo)
James Small (Gallo)

Cape Town - It's inaccurate to describe late Springbok wing James Small as a rebel.

This is the view of former Springbok Dawie Snyman, who coached Small at the Golden Lions in 1998.

"Rebellion against authority is something I never encountered with James. If someone experienced it in that way, I think it’s a total misinterpretation of the essence of James Small. In the short time I coached him I always received 100% support, understanding and commitment to the team from him," Snyman told Netwerk24.

The South African sporting fraternity was shocked on Wednesday when news broke that Small had died at the age of 50 of a heart attack.

Small played 47 Tests for the Springboks between 1992 and 1997 and scored 20 tries.

He has often been referred to as a complex character, but Snyman - who played 10 Tests between 1972 and 1977 and also coached Western Province - said that description couldn't be further than the truth.

"People who viewed him as complex did not understand him."

Meanwhile, following the completion of the autopsy on Friday afternoon, Small's cause of death was reported as 'ischaemic heart disease'.

In addition, a police investigation also found no suspicious circumstances.

"The sudden death of a well-known person inevitably prompts all kinds of unfounded rumours, which may circulate either in the press and on social media. At this incredibly difficult time, we very seriously appeal to both the public and media to resist idle speculation and allow our beloved son, brother, father and friend to rest in peace," a family spokesperson said.

Small's funeral will be held in Johannesburg at 14:00 on Thursday, July 18, at a yet-to-be-confirmed venue.

"All mourners will be welcome," the family spokesperson added.

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