Red-misted Roos must not lose his passion, says Smit: 'That aggression is because he's driven'

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Evan Roos on the charge for the Stormers against Edinburgh. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Evan Roos on the charge for the Stormers against Edinburgh. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
  • Former Springbok captain John Smit says combative Stormers No 8 Evan Roos should not lose his aggression but channel it better.
  • Roos was sin-binned for gratuitous aggression when he elbowed his opposite number Nick Haining in the Stormers' 34-18 win over Edinburgh.
  • Smit joked that some of his former teammates "suffered from the condition of over stimulation", in a thinly veiled reference to Bakkies Botha.

Former Springbok captain John Smit says combative Stormers loose forward Evan Roos should not lose his aggression, which fuels his passion, but find ways to channel it better on the park.

The No 8 was yellow-carded for an unnecessary elbow to his opposite number Nick Haining's neck in the Stormers’ 34-18 win over Edinburgh in Cape Town during a cleanout last weekend.

Roos also plays with a full-blooded aggressive style that makes him thrive in contact and break the gain-line almost at will, especially when he gets a gallop.

It's this conundrum that Smit tried to detangle: how does one tone down the very ingredient that makes Roos an outstanding player - in fact, the most outstanding player of the inaugural United Rugby Championship (URC) season - without compromising the player's qualities?

READ | John Smit on Sharks' Powell-Everitt dynamic: 'I don't think either of them have big egos'

Smit referenced Springbok enforcer Eben Etzebeth as the best example of an aggressive player who skirts the legal limit but never crosses the line.

"What Roos' got to be able to do is find some kind of way to control that emotion," said Smit during a URC roundtable discussion.

"Players in the modern game get away with absolutely nothing. The most aggressive thing we'll see is somebody grabbing a collar and looking really angry.

"That's about as tough as it gets. Eben (Etzebeth) is a guy that started in the older era and came through and he gets the angry eyes but seems to be able to control it to the point where it doesn't get him or his team into trouble.

"Evan can't lose that passion. He has to somehow know how to bottle it. You don't want to tamper with his enthusiasm but you also have to realise that the emotions you display, when they go out of control, they don't only cost you but the team."

One classic example of a player who often crossed the line was World Cup winner in Smit's 2007 team, Bakkies Botha.

Smit joked that some of his former teammates "suffered from the condition of over stimulation", in a thinly veiled reference to Botha.

"I certainly had a few guys in my squad that suffered from the condition of over stimulation, for want of a better word," said Smit.

"I joked the other day when I did a Q&A with Bakkies Botha and I explained to them that when I was in the changeroom trying to gee the guys up, I'd always wait for Bakkies to go to the toilet or strap his knee so he didn't get the full Monty.

"Because then he would be in a slightly overzealous mood in the first five minutes, which would normally be to our detriment.

"I don't think Roos is quite in the Bakkies Botha pedigree.

"And I also think that, given Evan’s background and history - the Sharks let him go, he was sitting in no man’s land and had a coffee with Jean de Villiers, next thing he is training with the Western Province-Stormers squad, playing for free and hoping for an opportunity and a year or so later he is playing proper rugby - that [aggression] comes because he’s driven internally."

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