Springbok captain John Smit has been confirmed as a non-starter against the World XV next weekend.
Smit has been withdrawn from field training sessions due to an unresolved groin injury. According to the Springbok medical staff, this is a proactive and precautionary measure.
Smit will receive intensive medical treatment and rehabilitation at the training camp, but will not be risked against the World XV. His likely replacement in the No 2 jersey will be Gary Botha â€“ with Hanyani Shimange on the bench – but who will take over the captaincy remains a mystery.
The logical choice seems to be Bulls lock Victor Matfield, but White has indicated earlier this season that he may go for Cats skipper Wikus van Heerden. White was hoping to rest Matfield for the game in any event.
Van Heerden has taken a full part in the Bok training after recovering from a knee injury in the latter stages of the Vodacom Super 14, but if indications at practice are to be believed he is probably not even going to make the starting XV.
Smit’s absence from the international season’s opener has been confirmed, but no official word was forthcoming on who a likely replacement captain would be. With all five of SA’s Super 14 captains in attendance, the name will probably come from them. Matfield (Bulls) and van Heerden (Cats) are the early favourites, while De Wet Barry (Stormers), Schalk Burger (also Stormers), Juan Smith (Cheetahs) and AJ Venter (Sharks) are outsiders.
By Andrew Hollely, in Bloemfontein