Johannesburg - Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis has backed John Smit and defended his own angry reaction to being substituted against the All Blacks.
Du Plessis played a pivotal role in the Boks' scrum dominance and at the set pieces against the All Blacks in addition to being busy around the park in a solid, all-round performance last Saturday in Port Elizabeth.
However, Du Plessis shocked the public and the media when he was substituted in the 60th minute, when he left the field with a clear expression of anger on his face, visibly mouthing expletives as he was taken off.
Du Plessis has constantly had to play second fiddle to John Smit, despite the widely-held view that he is the best hooker in the country by some margin, and he will in all likelihood, continue to provide support for the team from the bench.
But speaking to Business Day, Du Plessis denied being bitter about his role in the team and reaffirmed his support for Smit.
"John is our captain and I have great respect for him as a player and for his help to make me the player that I am," said Du Plessis.
"But competition brings out the best in us all and it is always
good because when I am sitting on the bench I know I can push him and
Du Plessis is well-known as a player who doesn't shy from the physical aspects of the game and who revels in his time spent on the field.
Du Plessis was quick to laugh off suggestions of any rift in the Springbok squad, but said he would have been disappointed to be taken off no matter who had replaced him, as he felt he still had more juice left in the tank.
"I enjoyed myself (playing against the All Blacks) and (in that situation) you don’t want to go off irrespective of who you are. If you haven’t played in five or six weeks, you want to play as long as you can to get your match fitness up, so it wasn’t disapproval, it was just that I was enjoying myself out there."