Bok legend bids farewell to the game ... again

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:23
Large juan smith verblitz 2 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springbok legend Juan Smith will play his last professional match this Saturday - in Japan.

Smith, who joined the Japanese side Verblitz at the start of the season, from French club RC Toulon, has decided to end his career for the second time.

The loose forward, who boast 70 Springbok Test caps, was eager to continue his spell at Verblitz - under the guidance of former Springbok coach Jake White.

However, Verblitz confirmed via a statement on their website, that the legend will play his last game this weekend - citing family reasons for his decision to quit.

"We would like to announce that Juan Smith is unable to continue playing rugby in Top League, due to family reasons," the club's statement said.

"After discussing the situation with Juan and the team’s managerial members, it is very regrettable to announce that the match against TL 9 SHOKKI SHUTTLES will be Juan's last match in his playing career.

"We apologise to our supporters for this announcement. However, we thank you for your understanding,"

The 36-year-old made his international debut in 2003 as a reserve in the 29-25 victory over Scotland at Kings Park in Durban, played in two World Cups and was part of the 2007 World Cup-winning team coached by current Verblitz coach White.

This is not the first time Smith had to hang up his boots.

In  2012, due to the ongoing battle with his Achilles injury, which resulted in four operations, he took an indefinite break.

Despite making a long-awaited comeback for the Cheetahs playing against the Bulls in a Super Rugby pre-season game in February 2013, he again suffered an injury setback and was forced to announce his retirement from the game

Nonetheless, in 2013 Smith was persuaded to come out of retirement and had signed a deal with French side RC Toulon.

He spent four years at Toulon and won a European Champions Cup with the side.

Smith revealed that the decision to retire was very difficult. The loose forward stated his plan was to lift the Japanese club title under the guidance of former Springboks coach Jake White.

"I am disappointed to announce that I am going to retire from my rugby career after the match against Shokki Shuttles," Smith said, adding: "I was going to carry on my rugby playing career with my coach Jake White.

"I was looking forward to winning the championship with my teammates, however, this was a decision which had to be decided on.

"I am wishing that the Verblitz team plays well in the competitions, and I hope that I’m able to support the team from my end as much as I can.

"Thank you very much for having me even though it was only for a short period of time,"