SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Springbok Star Juan Smith Retires

Standout Springbok flank Juan Smith announced his retirement on medical grounds through the South African Rugby Union (Saru) on Tuesday. Smith played in 69 tests and was a key player in a number of important Springbok successes.

He was at his best when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and helped the Springboks win the Tri-Nations in 2009 and beat the British & Irish Lions that same year. In 2002, he was one of the stars of the South African under-21 team that won the IRB under-21 World Cup on home soil.

Smith and Schalk Burger were a devastating combination at flank for the Springboks. Smith was a hard tackling, hard running, give-it-all, uncompromising player in the best South African tradition, who apart from his work around the field was also an excellent option in the lineout.

'One of the greats'

"This is a disappointing day for rugby as we see one of the greats of modern Springbok rugby go into retirement," said Saru president Oregan Hoskins.

"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 that 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," Hoskins said.

"We wish Juan all the best for his future and hope to still see him involved in rugby in some way. Thank you for your great service to rugby in South Africa in the past 10 years."

Achilles injury

Smith injured his Achilles early in 2011 and underwent four operations in the past two years to correct the problem.

Although he featured in two Vodacom Super Rugby warm-up matches for the Toyota Cheetahs in the last fortnight, Smith made the decision to retire from all rugby with immediate effect on Monday.

Apart from his 69 Tests and two other matches for South Africa, which is currently the 11th most by any Springbok, Smith also played in 41 matches for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, 32 Super 12 matches for the Cats and 47 Vodacom Super Rugby matches for the Toyota Cheetahs.

First class matches

He played a total of 198 first class matches throughout his career, which spanned 10 seasons.

He made his Test debut on 7 June 2003 against Scotland in Durban and played his last Test on 27 November 2010 against England at Twickenham.

He played in two Rugby World Cup tournaments (2003 and 2007) and was also nominated as the SA Rugby Player of the Year in those seasons.

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