Smith draws positives from testing time

Injury-plagued Springbok and Cheetahs flank Juan Smith says his hunger for the game is stronger than ever.

Smith ran for the first time in 10 months on Tuesday and is set to participate in their pre-season friendlies. Smith has been sidelined with a serious Achilles tendon injury, which compounded a miserable year in which he also lost his father.

However, training by himself for the meanwhile, he ran relatively freely and is optimistic about his chances of recovering sufficiently to be included in the Cheetahs’ warm-up fixtures.

He admits that the period out of the game was mentally taxing but he gained perspective eventually. ‘Every player approaches an injury differently,’ Smith said. ‘I was depressed, especially when I couldn’t go to the World Cup.

‘But I went away and thought about it. I could continue to feel sorry for myself or I could see it as an opportunity to extend my career by a year. My hunger for the game is back and stronger than ever. I hope and pray I can play all the matches I’m selected for.’