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Getting to know: Junior Springboks fly-half Jean Smith

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Liam Heagney)

Saturday night in Stellenbosch played host to a lovely moment post-match as Jean Smith managed to grab some time with his family. Franco’s coaching job in Glasgow means that father and son orbit different hemispheres when it comes to rugby, but with northern club rugby now in its off-season it allowed an opportunity for a matchday catch-up down south in South Africa.

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Smith accounted for 18 of the 33 points scored by the Junior Springboks in their 10-point win, including two late pressure penalty kicks after Georgia had narrowed the gap to two to briefly threaten a major upset at the Junior World Championship.

That composure helped Smith to be given the player of the match award in front of an attendance of 5,000 at the Danie Craven Stadium, but it won’t be until the third match of the pool stage – the July 4 encounter with Argentina – when the fly-half is next involved in the tournament.

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Rassie Erasmus explains how the players and management will be split for New Zealand

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Rassie Erasmus explains how the players and management will be split for New Zealand

With head coach Bafana Nhleko opting to hugely rejig his side for this Thursday’s meeting with Italy in Paarl, Smith has been given an opportunity to rest and he was suitably relaxed on Tuesday when RugbyPass caught up with him at the South African team hotel in Newlands, adjacent to the now-redundant stadium that memorably hosted multiple 1995 Rugby World Cup matches.

Born in Italy, Smith spoke at length about his upbringing in Europe before the family returned to South Africa when Franco, an ex-Springboks fly-half, continued the earlier part of his coaching career.

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That illuminating conversation will be published next week. In the meantime, here are the youngster’s answers to the quickfire part of the interview, chit-chat that revealed how famed All Black Dan Carter made Smith fall in love with rugby and how he would love one day to get to play with current Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi:

THE BASICS
Born: April 1, 2003;
Joined South Africa age-grade: It was 2019, U16.
Club: Cell C Sharks (Junior contract);
Position: Fly-half;
Boots: adidas Malice Control;
Gumshield: Opro;
Headgear: No;
School: Grey College, Bloemfontein.

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RATE YOURSELF (out of 100)
Pace: 65;
Passing: 80;
Tackling: 75;
Kicking: Out of hand and everything, I’ll say 80.

THE PAST
My favourite South Africa player of all time is… Jean de Villiers.

Favourite try I have ever scored is… My first try in a first-team jersey at school.

A rugby memory that makes me smile is… 2019 World Cup where the Boks won.

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The moment I realised I could make it is… 2019 when I was grade 10, that year started and I got the call-up for the first time.

One piece of advice I would give to my younger self is… Keep on working hard.

My best subject in school was… Drawing, EGD (engineering, graphic and design).

The first player who made me fall in love with rugby is… Dan Carter.

Growing up, my position was… Always fly-half.

The coach who has most impacted my game is… My father.

THE PRESENT
My favourite rising rugby player isKatlego Letebele, outside centre.

My best attribute on the field is… Vision.

One thing I’m doing to improve my education is… I’m currently studying (he doesn’t reveal what exactly).

My favourite current South Africa player is… Handre Pollard.

My favourite YouTuber is… I don’t have a favourite, can I say that?

My hardest working teammate is… Ethan Hooker.

My most skilful teammate is… I would say Hakeem Kunene.

My favourite training drill is… Two vs three.

My favourite music artist is… NF.

THE FUTURE??
A player who could go all the way is… Ethan Hooker.

If I could play with anyone, I would like to play with… It would be great to play with Siya Kolisi. I’ll say him.

I will be happy with my career if I… Playing international rugby.

I want to make a difference by… Making people believe that anything can happen if they just dream about it.

One thing I want to add to my game is… Being a consistent drop-goaler.

If I could get a degree in anything I would choose… I would be an engineer.

I would be a better player if I… Consistently work on myself.

If I could play in any other country, I would play in… These are hard questions. Maybe Ireland or Italy.

One person I want to meet is… Sorry, these are questions that I am not used to. Like, any person in the whole world? Will Smith.

One trophy I would love to win is… The World Cup.

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Shaylen 15 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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