• ‘Sabbatical of sorts’ could benefit SA players

    Former Bok and Sharks captain John Smit believes the one upside to the break in action could be that it presents South African players with an unexpected period of valuable rest, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    In a wide-ranging Zoom chat with SARugbymag.co.za, Smit discussed some of the inspirational outreach work he has been involved in during the lockdown period, while also touching on a silver lining that he felt could be found during these times.

    Watch: Zoom chat Part 1

    ‘I was chatting to [Bok prop] Trevor Nyakane recently and I said to him the one thing about this is that South Africa has never been big on the sabbaticals for certain players who have played for a long time and that might actually need it. But this has been an incredible [sabbatical of sorts] for everyone involved.

    ‘As much as there’s this massive financial setback and there’s been pay cuts, the positive has to be that all of our players can regenerate, and give a bit of rest to their bodies and their minds …’

    While New Zealand are set to start a 10-week domestic competition in mid-June, Smit said it would be interesting to see how gruelling this congested tournament would be.

    ‘Can you imagine being a New Zealander that has to go and do 10 weeks in a row of local derbies, after just over three weeks of training.

    ‘They are going to absolutely smash each other up … So, I do look forward to it, but I just wonder what the effect will have on those players after such a short pre-season. So I think that what South African rugby will do is give the players a fair chance to recover physically, and to get to that stage where they can play against each other.’

    Smit added that another benefit could be a return to a strengthened domestic South African competition when local rugby was finally able to resume.

    ‘We’ll hopefully get to see a real old-school Currie Cup, where there’s strength versus strength, and some Springboks in these Currie Cup teams. But I’m not sure when we’ll see international rugby again. Hopefully it is by the end of the year – but you just don’t know.’

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    Photo: Gallo Images

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    Craig Lewis