POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA - 23 January 2008, Austin Smith during the Five Nations Mens Hockey tournament match between South Africa and Germany held at the North West University hockey centre in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Photo by Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Austin Smith says he was surprised to be stripped of his South African men's hockey team captaincy through email.

Hockey South Africa announced an interim coach – Charlie Pereira – and captain – Rhett Halkett – for the World League Round two tournament in Brazil from starting on February 27.

Smith was named in the squad, but for the first time since 2008 he was not the captain.

“I think it was more a case of miscommunication seeing that I told him (Pereira) that I could be reached via email while in India,” said Smith in a statement on Wednesday.

“I didn’t expect to receive that news in an email though.”

Smith said he had since spoken to Pereira and had accepted his apology for what happened.

In the email Pereira disclosed the main reason Smith was dropped as captain was because he would miss the build-up in Rio de Janeiro and it was important that the squad have leadership from day one.

Smith would only arrive in time for the first match in Brazil because of his commitments to club side Den Bosch in Holland.

“When the dates for the training camp before the tournament was announced I already made the commitment to my club.”

“I don’t agree with all of the reasoning for the decision but it is something we will discuss in person during the tournament.”

Smith, 27, made his international debut for South Africa in March 2004 and became captain of the team in 2008. – Sapa