The most capped Springbok of all time, John Smit, delivered a strong message to the Springboks when he handed out the jerseys ahead of Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham.
Smit, who led the Springboks a world record 83 times, currently plays for Saracens in London. He made his debut for South Africa in 2000 and played in his 111th and final Test in 2011.
Smit’s message to the Springboks on Friday morning was to embrace the pressure of playing at the top and to enjoy the opportunity they have of representing a great country like South Africa.
“People don’t understand what pressure does to you,” said Smit.
“Don’t pretend it’s not there – rather embrace it. When you see your knee jumping nervously, like mine used to do before Tests, you realise the privilege you have of pulling that green and gold jersey over your head and representing millions of South Africans.
“When you understand that, the pressure becomes a reward for all the hard work you’ve put in to get here and all the time you’ve missed out with your family and friends, just to be in this great position of representing your country.
“Pressure is like having butterflies in your stomach. The key for me was never to try and get rid of it, but rather to ensure they all fly in the same direction. That is what you get right when you win.”
Under Smit’s captaincy, the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007, won the Tri-Nations twice (2004 and 2009) and defeated the British & Irish Lions (2009).