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Boks must embrace pressure – Smit

Johannesburg – Former Springbok captain John Smit has told the South African team to embrace the pressure when they square up against England in the final match of their year-end tour at Twickenham on Saturday.

Smit, the most capped Bok player in history, handed out the jerseys to the players on Friday.

Former Springbok captain John Smit has told the South African team to embrace the pressure when they face England at Twickenham.Photo by: Rogan Ward. Credit: Reuters

“People don't understand what pressure does to you,” Smit said.

“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.”

Smit, who led the Springboks a world record 83 times, currently plays for English side Saracens.

Under his captaincy, the Springboks lifted the World Cup in 2007, won the Tri-Nations twice (2004 and 2009) and defeated the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

The Boks won the first two matches of their year-end tour, fighting back to beat Ireland 16-12 in Dublin and defeating Scotland 21-10 in Edinburgh, and they will look to secure a cleansweep against England. – Sapa

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