Smit to lead Baa Baas

John Smit will captain the Barbarians against Australia on Wednesday while Frans Steyn has been picked at flyhalf.

Smit has been handed the honour of leading the side ahead of Richie McCaw for the encounter at Wembley. The starting XV includes nine Springboks while Nick Koster is the uncapped member of the squad.

Rico Gear – usually a wing – will partner Jean de Villiers in the midfield, Steyn gets a chance to face Matt Giteau at 10, and Fourie du Preez has recovered from a leg injury to start. Bryan Habana has been selected ahead of IRB Player of the Year Shane Williams in a Bok-dominated backline that also includes Percy Montgomery.

Bakkies Botha will pair up with Johann Muller in the second row while prop Rodney Blake, who now plays in France, was a late inclusion on the bench for Frenchman Patrice Collazo. Schalk Burger is included in a formidable loose trio with McCaw and Jerry Collins.

Coach Jake White was upbeat about the quality of the squad.

“This is one of the better Barbarians side there has been for a while and Eddie [Jones] and I are really chuffed to get this group of players together,” said White.

“It has been nice for me to be with the [players I coached at the World Cup] but it has also been nice to coach players like Richie and Joe Rokocoko. Usually when I see them they are on the other side of the field! It is nice to see the players who usually smash into each other having an opportunity to play as a team and that is something unique in rugby.

“The important thing is that a number of these players haven’t played for the Baa Baas – players like Richie, Bakkies Botha, Jean de Villiers and John Smit – and I think it is wonderful they get the opportunity to play alongside such wonderful players,” he said.

“A guy like Sean Fitzpatrick was a great captain of New Zealand but never got the chance to play for the Barbarians and I am sure he would have loved to play in a team like this.”

Barbarians – 15 Percy Montgomery (SA), 14 Joe Rokocoko (NZ), 13 Rico Gear (NZ), 12 Jean de Villiers (SA), 11 Bryan Habana (SA), 10 Francois Steyn (SA), 9 Fourie du Preez (SA), 8 Jerry Collins (NZ), 7 Richie McCaw (NZ), 6 Schalk Burger (SA), 5 Johann Muller (SA), 4 Bakkies Botha (SA), 3 Census Johnston (Samoa), 2 John Smit (SA & captain), 1 Federico Pucciariello (Italy). Subs: 16 Mark Regan (England), 17 Rodney Blake (Australia), 18 Chris Jack (NZ), 19 Nick Koster (Western Province), 20 George Gregan (Australia), 21 Ollie Smith (England), 22 Shane Williams (Wales).

Coach – Jake White

Assistant Coach – Eddie Jones