Saracens sign Smit
July 13, 2011
Smit has played in Europe before for Clermont Auvergne but will leave the Sharks to play in the Premiership next season. © Getty Images
Springboks captain John Smit has confirmed he will join Premiership champions Saracens after the World Cup.
Smit, who will captain South Africa's 27-man squad for their Tri-Nations tests in Australia and New Zealand, is looking forward to playing alongside some former Sharks teammates while also nurturing the future generations of Saracens players. Smit, who has played in Europe before for Clermont Auvergne, is equally adept at both hooker and prop and will bolster the front-row options for Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.
"I am delighted to have signed for a club widely renowned for the ferocious work ethic and spirit on the field and for the unique way it treats people off the field," Smit said. "It is becoming a very special rugby club, combining a cast-iron commitment to develop young English players with a clear South African flavour. I'm looking forward to rejoining former teammates like Deon Carstens and Brad Barritt, and also to working with players like Jamie George, last year's England under-20 hooker."
Smit, who has captained the Springboks on 76 occasions, has also revealed that the forthcoming World Cup will be his last foray on the international scene to allow him to focus solely on the challenge at Saracens. "I am hoping to make it to the World Cup and have a pretty good shout there and that will be me," said Smit, talking to The Daily Telegraph. "I have had 11 years with the Boks so I think I have had my fair share and that will allow me to concentrate fully with Saracens, when I link up with them two weeks after my last game [for South Africa], which will hopefully be early part of November."
Fellow Springbok Schalk Brits will hope to keep Smit out of the Saracens side and the Springboks captain admits that Brits has reason to be upset after being omitted from the South Africa training squad for the World Cup. "Schalk Brits is one of their best players and my role there will be probably to relieve the pressure on him a bit and hopefully bring through some of the younger players," Smit added. "It is probably a little frustrating for him (to be overlooked by the Springboks) but his cause probably hasn't been helped by the fact that we had to pick overseas players like Ruan Pienaar and Francois Steyn as most teams don't like to pick too many players abroad."
Saracens head coach Mark McCall now faces the task of retaining the Premiership trophy. The signing of Smit, along with fellow new faces Charlie Hodgson and Joe Maddock, is hoped to herald in a new era of dominance for the Vicarage Road side. "We are absolutely thrilled to have signed one of the most prominent and admired players in world rugby," McCall said. "John is an outstanding leader and hooker, and I am certain he, Roxy and their children will all thrive in our environment."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker