Johannesburg – The SA Rugby Union (Saru) thanked Springbok flank Juan Smith on Tuesday for his services to rugby following his decision to retire from the game on medical advice.
Smith played in 69 Tests for the Springboks. He was part of the Rugby World Cup winning squad in 2007, won the Tri-Nations in 2009, and was a member of the Bok squad that overcame the British & Irish Lions in 2009.
In 2002, Smith was one of the stars of the South African Under-21 team that won the IRB U-21 World Cup on home soil.
Smith also enjoyed success at provincial level with the Free State Cheetahs when they won the Currie Cup in 2005.
“This is a disappointing day for rugby, as we see one of the greats of modern Springbok rugby go into retirement,” Saru president Oregan Hoskins said on Tuesday.
“Juan was a vital cog for every team in which he played and he will be sorely missed, not only by the Springboks, but also by the Cheetahs.
“As one of the hard men of South African rugby, Juan distinguished himself as someone who always put the team first.
“He wasn't someone who looked for glory, but knew what was needed to get the job done. He never gave less than his very best.”
Smith injured his Achilles tendon early in 2011 and underwent four operations in the past two years to correct the problem.
Though he featured in two Super Rugby warm-up matches for the Cheetahs in the last fortnight, Smith made the decision to retire from all rugby with immediate effect on Monday.
“We wish Juan all the best for his future and hope to still see him involved in rugby in some way,” Hoskins said.
“Thank you for your great service to rugby in South Africa in the past 10 years.”
Apart from his 69 Tests and two non-Tests for South Africa, currently the 11th most by any Springbok, Smith also played in 41 matches for the Free State Cheetahs, 32 Super 12 matches for the Cats, and 47 Super Rugby matches for the Cheetahs.
He played a total of 198 first class matches throughout his career, which spanned 10 seasons.
Smith made his Test debut on June 7, 2003 against Scotland in Durban and played his last Test on November 27, 2010 against England at Twickenham.
He played in two Rugby World Cup tournaments in 2003 and 2007 and was also nominated as the SA rugby Player of the Year in those seasons. – Sapa