John Smit’s fitness probably occupies most of Jake White’s time because Smit’s successor is unlikely to play test rugby this season.
Bok coach White unwisely publicly declared that Cats captain Wikus van Heerden was the successor to Smit should the Sharks hooker and Bok captain get injured in the Super 14 or the early part of the test season. White went on record to say he did not believe he had a capable international captain in his current squad — a squad that included Cats captain Wikus van Heerden, Stormers leaders De Wet Barry, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger, as well as Cheetahs captain Juan Smith and the Bulls duo of Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez.
Van Heerden thought his season was over because of a knee injury and while the latest is that he may not have to have an operation, it is still unclear when he would be available.
Smit is still there, but has to survive two more Super 14 matches. What happens if the Bok captain is struck with injury? Does White turn to another outsider or does he go cap in hand to the likes of Smith, Matfield, Burger and Barry and tell them that even though he doesn’t rate them as test captains, they now have to lead the Boks?
Rarely has a Bok captain been under so much pressure not to get injured. Rarely has a Bok coach been under such scrutiny for confirming in print what he was thinking.