Heinz Schenk
1 minute read
24 Jul 2014
2:00 pm

Reports of Juan’s selection exaggerated

Heinz Schenk

SA Rugby yesterday refuted claims that veteran and World Cup-winner Juan Smith is a shoo-in for Springbok selection when the Rugby Championship starts next month.

FILE PICTURE: Juan Smith during the Toyota Cheetahs training session Picture: Loren Battersby / Gallo Images.

The 32-year-old loose forward was part of a trio also featuring Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana to have been officially released by their French club Toulon, prompting reports that he’d been selected for national duty for the first time in almost four years.

However, Saru chief executive Jurie Roux clarified that such an assumption is wholly faulty.

“I can categorically state that Juan has not been included in the Bok squad,” he said.

“The reality of the matter is that he’s only been pronounced as available for selection. We are required by IRB regulations to approach every overseas union to request whether they would be granted a release.”

Roux added that as a result, the national governing body merely aim to streamline that process.

“What we do is submit a comprehensive list to every relevant overseas union of players who we think could be realistic contenders for a call-up from national coach Heyneke Meyer,” he said.

“But we still adhere to proper protocol and a final squad will only be announced in due course. If we used the mere release of players as confirmation of a final squad, we would be sitting with about half a squad of players already. Previous reports are not accurate.”

It’s understood that approximately 17 to 19 candidates have been notified of their possible inclusion.

Smith’s past few years have been blighted by an Achilles injury sustained in 2011’s Super Rugby tournament, which required four operations.

During a pre-season comeback last year, Smith decided to announce a premature retirement, but roared back by gaining an unlikely trial with the European champions and impressing so much that he secured a contract and rave reviews.

Meyer will announce his squad for the Rugby Championship on August 2.