Win or lose, Saturday’s match at Lansdowne Road will be a memorable one for Springbok captain John Smit.
Smit will lead the South Africa out against the Irish under the same emblem worn by Paul Roos’s ‘Springbokken’ of 1906 to commemorate 100 years of Springbok rugby. With the side boasting a number of new faces and combinations, the burly hooker admitted that he felt sorry for the contracted national players left at home.
“It’s a one in a million opportunity to play in this jersey,” Smit told the media at the captain’s press conference in Dublin. “I feel sorry for some of the guys like Monty [Percy Montgomery], Victor [Matfield] and Schalk [Burger] who are at home and won’t be able to wear the jersey, as I’m sure many players will have killed for a chance to get one.”
Apart from being a big day in history for South African rugby, the Test will also mark three more achievements for the Bok captain. On Saturday, he will become the player to feature in the most consecutive games for the Springboks (40), as well as equal Gary Teichmann’s 36-Test run as captain. He will also have equalled the record of 60 Tests for a Springbok hooker.
“Gary was my first captain as a young 18 year old in the side, and it’s an honour to be placed in the same category as him. It’s humbling to reach his record, and to try and emulate him as a captain is a challenge in itself.”
Smit posed with one of the jerseys to be worn on this momentous occasion (above), and also sported a shiner acquired a week ago during a practice game against the Lions U21s.
By Jon Cardinelli, in Dublin