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Status: Senior player
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Juan will be managed carefully - Naka
January 29, 2013, 15:24:26

Juan will be managed carefully - Naka

World Cup-winning Springbok Juan Smith will make his return to the field of play after a two year absence this weekend, but he will be carefully managed to ensure the Toyota Cheetahs get the best out of him during their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.

Smith, who missed the last two seasons with two horrific Achilles heel injuries, returned to training two weeks ago and has been declared ready for action by the Cheetahs medical team, which makes him likely to make an appearance this weekend in the pre-season “Reconciliation Cup” game against the Stormers.

But there are still concerns about the well-being of Smith, whose career was at a dead end, and whether or not he will be able to make the step up again after a long absence from the game.

There is no doubt that in his prime Smith was possibly the best No 7 flank on the planet, and if he can recapture anything close to that, it will be great news for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske confirmed that Smith would play this weekend and said he had “the fullest confidence” that the Bok flanker will be back to his best shortly.

“He’s really looking good,” Drotske told, “Everybody knows he is a world class player, but it is difficult for any player to come back from two years out of the game.

“He has been training well with us, and he is showing no signs of any problems with his Achilles, so we expect him to be fully fit and ready on Saturday.”

But Drotske cautioned against too much expectation from Smith in the beginning, saying the Cheetahs had decided to give him extra time for his comeback, and to ease him back into the rigours of the Southern Hemisphere competition once again.

Still, knowing the way Smith approaches the game this may be easier said than done as he tends to give 100% in any game he is involved in.

“We have to keep an eye on him and manage him well, especially in terms of our expectations in training. He is also 31 years old, so he’s not a young player anymore, so we will keep a close eye and manage his workload well both on and off the field.”

With Adriaan Strauss appointed as team captain again for the season, the Bok hooker will be keen to use Smith’s experience and leadership capabilities in Super Rugby to help shore up a Cheetahs side that is looking to do better than they have in past tournaments.


Status: Senior player
Posts: 3676
RE: Juan will be managed carefully - Naka
January 29, 2013, 15:27:15

 2 years out of the game, only on match fees with no fixed contract. 

Many will have written him off, and his body could be finished. 

Hopefully though he can play well. I wonder if they would more consider him as a lock as he must have lost speed now. He was exceptional in the lineout. 

Him and Matfield in the same lineout was lethal, because he covered the back of the lineout so well


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Posts: 12866
RE: Juan will be managed carefully - Naka
January 29, 2013, 16:26:29


Smith is far too old to be a contender for selection in 2015 and even if he regainsg his form - highly unlikely in view of his age and injury problems.    I think it would really be unwise to pick  him as a short term player for the Springboks.   If I was him - I would rather try and land a lucrative foreign contract as a pension fund contributor.

That may just be his objective.  Clubs would not sign him up without evidence that he is still good enough and his performances will be watched with eagle eyes by the clubs overseas.   If he is good enough I am sure he will be out of SA by August 2013.    

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