John Smit does not believe he should have been rested for the Springboks’ end-of-year tour.
The captain has started the Boks’ last 37 Tests and played a part in the last 40. Back-up Bok hookers Hanyani Shimange, Gary Botha and most recently Chiliboy Ralepelle have all played minor substitution roles over the last three years, raising fears that Smit will be burnt out by the time the World Cup arrives.
However, Smit told the Sunday Independent’s Jacques van der Westhuyzen that he was unconcerned about his workload.
“Sure, I’ve played every Test since Jake became coach and a lot of people think I’m tired, but I don’t think a lot of people know I’ve only played 18 matches this whole year,” he said. “Of those I started only 16, and most I didn’t finish. So I can’t understand why people are so keen to see me get a break. This year has been the least amount of rugby I’ve played in my career.”
Smit admitted that his form hadn’t been great in 2006 and was hoping to turn things around against Ireland and England.
“Missing the Currie Cup with the other contracted Springboks has done me the world of good,” he said. “I feel absolutely fantastic. I’ll admit this year hasn’t been my grandest. I was perhaps playing a little too cautiously because I was protecting my groin, which set me back at the start of the year.
“But I think I was getting back to my best in the last three Tests. I felt I was nearing my best physical standard, even though my defence probably still let me down at times. It was a bit difficult moving quickly from left to right and vice versa because of the groin. And when you doubt yourself physically, it affects you mentally, but right now I feel really good.”